Young volunteers from across Manchester and Blackburn left the comfort of their warm and cosy homes on Sunday (23 Dec 18), to distribute mince pies and hot drinks to, and stop for a chat with, around 50 homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester.

The group of 16 volunteers also delivered sandwiches, crisps, hot rice, homemade biscuits and water (as well as 12 sleeping bags) on behalf of Islamic Relief UK – an international development charity working to tackle poverty in the UK and overseas.

Many of the food and drink items were generously donated by the local community or paid for by local businesses from Blackburn such as Mighty Fresh (who provided sandwiches) and Tesco (who provided mince pies).

Islamic Relief’s Community fundraiser, Jamal Afzal, said: “Our volunteers have really taken the initiative this year and are determined to make a difference to the city’s homeless. And, it’s not just about handing out food and drinks, but about making time for a proper chat and having a real conversation with people who are likely to experience loneliness over the Christmas period.”

Hamzah Adam, an IT technician from Blackburn and member of Islamic Relief’s RespondIR initiative – a dedicated volunteer programme that provides emergency response in crisis affected areas in the UK – was responsible for organising the local initiative in central Manchester.

Hamzah said: “At this time of year most people take time off work and spend the days celebrating with loved ones, yet there are hundreds of homeless people on the streets of Manchester who do not have safe place or a loved one to share this precious time with.

“As RespondIR volunteers, we wanted to do something to show our solidarity and support for people who are living in crisis in the UK. By reaching out to people on the streets, we hope to be a friend, share a smile, have a chat over a coffee, but most importantly express our love for them in whatever way we can.”

Islamic Relief’s winter campaign is also supporting refugees, displaced and vulnerable people around the world who are facing the prospect of having to survive winter without adequate shelter, food or clothing. The charity helped over 90,000 people last winter, including families in Afghanistan, India, Kosovo, Nepal, Pakistan and Yemen, providing them with items such as blankets, mattresses, plastic mats and sheets to help protect them against the freezing weather.

The charity is encouraging the public to donate to its winter appeal, which will help vulnerable people around the world survive the cold months ahead. Just £50 could provide a family with food for a month, £65 could provide a family with winter clothes and £120 could provide a person in need with a winter pack.

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For press enquiries contact emma.wigley@islamic-relief.org.uk

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