Dozens queue every week for free hot meals in Northampton, Sikh Community leader reveals

Queues in Abington Street last Sunday
Queues in Abington Street last Sunday
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People in poverty are queuing in the cold in Abington Street in Northampton for up to an hour to get free hot meals.

The Sikh Community, which gives out the free food each Sunday evening, serves both homeless people and those struggling to pay for food.

Amarjit Atwal, the Sikh community leader in Northampton, says numbers are growing each week, with queues of about 140 people over the last two weeks.

He said: “Last November we were having 20 people arrive, but more are coming all the time now.

“I would say about two-thirds are homeless, living in doorways with all their belongings. Some of them prefer to live like that.

“But most of the rest are vulnerable people with a roof over their heads who can’t always afford hot meals.

“There are some people who tell us they haven’t had a hot meal for three days.

“There’s a mum and daughter who walk every week from Weston Favell to get hot food then walk all the way back.

“I can’t say every single one is desperate, but why would you queue for that long in the cold otherwise?”

Mr Atwal says he believes part of the reason the Sikh Community venture is being used so heavily vital organisations such as the Hope Centre and Samaritans do not operate at weekends.

But the overall need is created by a mix of benefit cuts and wrong decisions that lead to the loss of jobs, homes and families.

He said: “Many of those we speak to are educated and well-spoken, but their lives changed because of the slightest change in circumstances.

“Maybe they started to drink a little bit more, then they lost their job, lost their home, lost their family. It all spiralled away.

“I think they come to us because they rely on services that are only there during the week. They need more support at weekends.”

The Sikh Community gives out the food using four core volunteers in Abington Street between 6pm and 7pm each Sunday. They do not take cash donations but would be grateful for unwanted clothes such as hats, gloves, scarves jackets, jeans, trousers, socks.

Items can be dropped off at the Sikh Community Centre in St George’s Street from 9am to midday every Sunday.

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