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More than 200 bags of donations help Newham's homeless this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 16:00 22 December 2018

Seva Street hands out food and donations to the homeless at the Stratford Centre every Wednesday. Picture: David Brunetti

Seva Street hands out food and donations to the homeless at the Stratford Centre every Wednesday. Picture: David Brunetti

Archant

A homeless charity donated more than 200 bags of donations to rough sleepers in time for Christmas.

Seva Street, which has set up stands in the Stratford Centre every Wednesday evening since March, wanted to make the festive season slightly easier for their regulars.

Thanks to donations from businesses and individuals across Newham, they provided toiletries, blankets, sleeping bags and hot food to more than 100 homeless last week.

“I have been completely overwhelmed by the response,” said Sukhjit Ahluwalia, founder of Seva Street.

“I reached out to my circle and on social media, and lots of people, from all different communities, responded.
“We’re not religious, so we get people from all backgrounds – from India, Africa, Argentina to England – helping us.

“There’s no agenda, apart from helping.”

The charity goes to Stratford and Ilford every week, giving out toiletries, blankets and meals to rough sleepers. They started as a couple of volunteers and around 40 homeless – now, there are 35 regular volunteers, who help nearly 200 homeless.

Their ethos is to treat everyone as equals – no one gets asked why they’re in the queue for food.

Sukhjit said: “We call the evening, Come Eat With Us, so we do not label anyone as homeless. They’re our guests.

“We get feedback that says people look forward to our evenings, because we will talk to them.

“Just because they’re homeless, doesn’t mean we treat them any less.”

Going into the winter, the charity is trying to put together homeless kits, including blankets and warm clothing, to help as the weather turns colder.

For now, they’re happy giving food and donations, but eventually, they want to be changing the mindset of the entire community.

“I set it up because the number of deaths in Newham and Redbridge from homelessness aren’t acceptable and I believe we shouldn’t just be looking at local authorities,” Sukhjit said.

“We all have a social responsibility. We should be getting the community together.

“In the 60s and 70s, there was a much more human community feeling. That feeling is what brought people together and I think that’s been eroded. What I think is required is more people looking after each other.”

To find out more, visit sevastreet.org

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