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Muslim community foodbank gaining popularity

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A MUSLIM community group's effort to help the homeless and hungry is gathering pace.

The Muslim Association of Croydon (MAC) has been running a weekly foodbank since April and now has up to 100 regulars, compared to roughly 20 when it started.

Spicy rice with chicken, lamb or vegetables, depending on the week, is dished out opposite Croydon mosque in Dunheved Road South, Thornton Heath, every Friday evening.

Ashtaq Arain, MAC secretary, said a walk through Norbury Park had impressed upon him the level of need.

He said: "Quite a few eastern Europeans were stood around and I started chatting to one of them. It was really heart-wrenching to hear their experiences of what they were going through.

"The majority of the people that I spoke to there were squatting and did not have any food or anything, so we decided it was about time that as a community we made some contribution."

He added: "We really wanted to do something for the community and we know these are difficult times for everyone.

"We wanted to contribute and one way we could see where we could do so is providing a service to the homeless.

"Croydon North has a very large Muslim community and it is important that we played our part in providing some sort of social association."

The project is run on donations and staffed by volunteers. Tandoori Corner restaurant in Thornton Heath provides and cooks the food at cost price. Mr Arain hopes to expand the project as funds become available.

Adam Mircovich, 28, from Poland, was among the men accepting the warm meal, coffee, tea and biscuits last Friday.

He said: "I don't have a job; that is the problem.

"I do painting and decorating and am trying to look for a job, struggling for something."

"I've no place to live, but can stay with friends here and there."

Mr Arain said he is also working to enlist the help of other organisations that can provide different kinds of practical support.

He added he was also trying to reach sections of the Muslim community for whom culturally ingrained pride might stop them visiting the food bank.

He said: "I know that the community is a very closed community and there are people there who are struggling as well. We want to provide them help as well but it is very difficult.

"I suppose it is the pride within them that stops them from coming but we are now trying to make sure that we can identify those in need and try to help them as well.

"We are trying to work with the mosque and with the imam – if there is any person who would know it is him.

"So we are trying to work with him to see if we can identify and let us know and then we would anonymously try to help them out in any way that we can

"We are in difficult economic times."

Muslim community foodbank gaining popularity


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