Birmingham City Council has joined forces with two city charities to help improve the lives of hundreds of homeless people. From 22 February Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) has been offering a hot meal service for homeless people from the Digbeth headquarters of SIFA Fireside. The service, from 6.30-8pm, will operate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sikh charity MLSS has been providing free hot food every weekday evening in Birmingham City Centre for almost two years.
The current service operates outdoors at the junction of Moor Street Queensway and Albert Street, meaning those attending have little or no protection against potential crime or exploitation.
Now, with demand increasing, MLSS will operate from SIFA’s Allcock Street premises in Digbeth.
The indoor service is initially a Birmingham City Council funded pilot scheme and once demand is assessed, organisers hope to offer additional services such as housing and crisis support, mental health and substance misuse services.
MLSS volunteer and adviser Dr Sukhdev Singh said: "A number of people now rely on our service as their main source of nutrition, so I am pleased and proud to have helped MLSS and SIFA come together in an unprecedented collaboration to help feed the homeless and poor in Birmingham."
SIFA Fireside Chief Executive Cath Gilliver added: "We’ve been working with Midland Langar Seva for a while now and very much appreciate the support they provide for people who are homeless or otherwise vulnerable, so this new project is a natural extension of that, and we’re delighted that the Council is supporting our partnership."
The new initiative was initially suggested by Cllr Narinder Kaur Kooner who saw the potential to partner a daytime service offered by SIFA Fireside with the evening service offered by MLSS.
Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, who was happy to support, said: “Midland Langar Seva Society already provides a real lifeline to many people and once the new service is established at SIFA, our aim is to provide additional support for people who might otherwise find it difficult to access health and housing services.
“This is a perfect example of how partners working across the city can come together to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Birmingham.”
Cllr Kaur Kooner added: "Midland Langar Seva Society is one of a number of amazing organisations helping the homeless in Birmingham and I'm proud of the way our city comes together to help people who have fallen on hard times. The volunteers are a credit to the city."