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Homeless London is still alive and kicking

Emdad Rahman

We focus so much on the “homeless” part we forget the “people” bit… #
TheWanderingLondoner

TONIGHT AT THE soup kitchen we had a mixture of the kids and new volunteers stepping in, including Dr Mohammad Hassan from Queens Hospital, Romford, who came along despite a late shift on the job. Here is a gentleman making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people, yet he commits time to working with us on voluntary community service. The likes of Dr Mohammad are proof of the impact big hearted volunteers have on their communities. 

It’s nice to see the weather is improving and this is very much reflected in the glow of the faces of our homeless guests, local shoppers, tourists and even the volunteers.

West Ham played away to Bournemouth, so the crowds around Stratford were a little subdued. The food was provided by Halima, her husband and the gorgeous twins Amna and Hamdan, who even joined in to serve. The Biryani went down a treat and was very popular with our guests. We served lots of elderly friends tonight. One was clearly in distress and was seen to by paramedics.

The kids were excellent and I usually like to observe them as they get on with their duties. Although I don’t stand there with a clipboard, it’s a bit like the head coach observing his players as they go about strutting their stuff. I had given them a little briefing on smiling while serving, engaging in small talk, being attentive and not swapping personal details. I then let them take over and asked the adults to play support roles.

In my opinion customer service is even more essential in voluntary service and I like to set a positive example myself by telling youngsters and newbies that it is irrelevant that homeless guests are not paying to eat from our hands. The fact that they chose to come to us to be served is the ultimate blessing, privilege and honour in the first place. Amanda and Jim stayed to the end and shared some banter.

The thing about kids is nothing about what they do is put on and every action is genuine, sincere and no holds barred. They are not politicians and they cannot lie or mask their emotions. They may speak in sweet tones, harsh tones, ignore you, grimace or even hug you – sometimes in succession. What you see is very much what you get.

In my opinion it is hugely important to bring the kids along and supervise them while they run a soup kitchen and serve fellow human beings who are in a vulnerable position in comparison to their own lives. What are the alternatives on a Saturday night? Play Station? XBox? Social Media? Hit the town? Let’s be honest and agree that lots of kids on a Saturday night are either on their consoles, getting up to no good or struggling to find things to do.

The team at One Third soup kitchen offer a great activity. I encourage families to join in and not cancel Saturday night plans as we have a finely tuned system which enables us to set up, serve, tidy up and get back to what we were doing in no time.

If you’d like to support the work of my team at One Third Soup Kitchen, follow and contact me on Twitter – @emdad07

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