Community Soup Kitchen Feeds Hundreds in Walsall
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A weekly soup kitchen established by members of Walsall’s Muslim community has fed hundreds of needy locals since its launch last year.
Walsall BME Welfare & Advice Centre (WBWAC) is a volunteer-led initiative established in July 2016 to support disadvantaged individuals from the Black Ethnic minority background.
A Community Soup Kitchen was then setup later in November for the homeless and those in need to “come along for a hot meal, clothing, bedding, toiletries… and much needed comfort from a warm and friendly place”.
Serving a variety of dishes and desserts from 6-7pm on a Wednesday, the centre caters for between 30-45 people every week.
According to WBWAC’s Facebook page, its “team is dedicated to the mission of helping the people in Walsall” and to “improve community relations by bringing different communities together through arranging events, activities and healthy discussions that will aid trust”.
Not only does WBWAC describe its dedicated team as “an unbelievable source of information”, but the Centre “provides a dedicated service to individuals from disadvantaged communities which include Black Minority Ethnic groups, new migrants, homeless and vulnerable individuals living in Walsall and surroundings”.
As such, while the Centre offers an unsurprisingly popular Advice Surgery from 5-7pm every Monday-Thursday , it also runs community-building initiatives, support groups and projects that include:
- Women’s Inter-generational Health & Wellbeing Support Group
- Men’s Inter-generational Health & Wellbeing Support Group
- Community Clean-up Project
- Community Befriending to tackle Social Isolation
- Community Cohesion & Human Rights Campaign Project
In spite of these efforts though, WBWAC Secretary, Ibrahim Ali, told FtL that the government and local council weren’t doing enough to help.
He said that while they could do far more in terms of housing and temporary accommodation, he was certain, given the general rise of poverty in the area, that “there should definitely be more food banks” established for the underprivileged and disadvantaged.
According to WBWAC: “Individuals from BME background are less likely to engage with mainstream services due to different barriers hence often live in poverty and poor health and inadequate housing provisions.”
Ibrahim was likewise hopeful of more support and help from Walsall’s superstores.
While WBWAC did receive food donations from its local Asda store, such arrangements abruptly came to an end following the departure of the branch manager.
Overall, however, Ibrahim said: “We also need more support – more Muslim support really – to achieve what we’re aiming for.”
Although WBWAC’s efforts have been entirely voluntary-based since its inception, Ibrahim revealed that efforts of “working towards being registered as a charity group” would cost the Centre around £5000.
In the meantime, WBWAC says it “aims to serve these [vulnerable] groups and we believe there’s a genuine gap in service provisions for a genuine charity like ours.”