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Glasgow poverty project feeds landmark 20,000 people

Glasgow poverty project feeds landmark 20,000 people

For Glasgow resident Alam Sher, giving to charity is more than a staple of his religion.

Since founding a poverty relief project with Glasgow Central Mosque three years ago, the 62-year-old goods-in manager has come to the realisation that generosity has become the foundation for a community.

It started off as a small initiative to help the homeless in December 2012, providing hot food for those who didn't know where their next meal would come from, cooked at Alam's home.

But with growing involvement of local butchers and grocers, charities, the University of Glasgow and volunteers, the project has evolved into two fully-staffed soup kitchens and a weekly food drop-off service.

  (Glasgow Central Mosque)
via STV via STV

A team now operate from Glasgow's busiest soup kitchen on Cadogan Street on a Saturday with another kitchen run from the Mosque on a Sunday, while volunteers deliver around 100 food packs per week to those in need.

Each Sunday, a team will collect donations from businesses all over Glasgow, then pack and distribute food parcels to destitute asylum seekers and refugees the same day.

Additionally the project delivers 30 food packs to asylum seekers through Positive Action in Housing, a legal drop-in centre in Glasgow.

That's a whopping 20,000 food packs delivered over the course of three years, donations that are often a lifeline to service users who have no income or accommodation.

  (Glasgow Central Mosque)
via STV via STV

It's a busy lifestyle for Alam, who also works five days a week. But volunteering at the soup kitchen every weekend is something he says he wouldn't miss for the world.

"I look forward to visiting the soup kitchen, it's like a family," said Alam. "You get to know the people who use the service over the years.

"Certain members are young ladies with children just trying to make a home in Glasgow, and they enjoy coming to us.

"Every Saturday the food is cooked in my house, and it's very satisfying to see my family as a whole working towards a common goal."

  (Glasgow Central Mosque)
via STV via STV

As more volunteers have come aboard, Alam has identified further needs in the community, particularly among Muslims living in poverty who have limited or no access to halal meat and fresh produce.

In conjunction with the Glasgow Homeless Shelter, the project has also collected donations of clothing - an effort that has helped keep homeless people warm during winter months.

Going forward, the poverty relief project hopes to establish a trust fund, to provide more help to those in need.

Alam added: "We always need volunteers but we're in need of donations - particularly food rather than money, we don't horde anything so all the food needs to be fresh.

"I think for the majority of our donors, they consider it a need to do something for the local community, especially for refugees coming to Glasgow from all over the world.

"We're not looking for popularity or awards, our work is an opportunity to help a human being."

The Glasgow Central Mosque opened to the public in May 1984.

In recent years the organisation has undertaken invaluable charity work including blood drives, care of the elderly and community regeneration.

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