London Muslims donate 10 tonnes of food for homeless at Christmas

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SHAFAQNA – Muslims have donated 10 tonnes of food to feed the homeless across London at Christmas, religious and charity leaders said.

Hundreds of Muslims flocked to the East London Mosque on Friday in a drive to feed London’s homeless during the festive period.

Pictures showed members of the 7,500 strong Muslim congregation donating food as they attended Friday prayers at the mosque in Whitechapel.

Members of the congregation stood proudly in front of crates of shopping bags filled with rice, pasta, cereals and other tinned goods, ready to be distributed to people living on the street.

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Members of the congregation pose with food packages outside the mosque (Ben Stevens)

Organisers estimated that over seven tonnes of food were donated with local businesses, schools, a university and leaders from other faiths chipping in.

More than 90 per cent of the food, which will be given to homeless charity Crisis, will go to non-Muslims, with Christian Reverend Gary Bradley describing the drive as “all faiths working together for a common humanity.”
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Muslim aid volunteers package the donated food for the homeless (Ben Stevens)

Shaykh Abdul Qayum, Chief Imam of the East London Mosque, who organised the collection along with charity Muslim Aid, said the drive was inspired by their faith.

He said: “Muslims are inspired by their faith towards helping others in need. It is a religious duty for Muslims to try to help others, irrespective of a person’s faith or background.

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Bernadette Hegarty of St Pauls, Bow Common Church helps Muslim Aid volunteers (Ben Stevens)

“This compassion is truly reflective of what Islam stands for.”

He added: “In the cold winter months when we have the luxury of a home and hot food, it’s easy to forget about others that are in dire need around us. So it is in that spirit we take part in this big food drive.”

The number of people sleeping rough in the UK has risen dramatically, with government figures estimating that over 3,500 people slept on the streets each night last year, an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2014.

The charity Centrepoint warns that 25,000 young people could be at risk of homelessness this Christmas.

 

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