Each Saturday, whereas Londoners prepare for weekend revelry, a gaggle of passionate volunteers begins unpacking tables, flasks, and crates of meals onto one of many metropolis’s busiest streets. Who’s Hussain? — a voluntary organisation dedicated to tackling injustice on an area and international scale — units up for its weekly meals drive, providing a sizzling meal, dialog and a dose of hope to London’s homeless inhabitants.
On an icy day in January, World Citizen headed right down to Charing Cross, London, to learn how the charity is making a distinction on town’s streets.
The mission takes its title from the seventh century revolutionary determine, Hussain ibn Ali. The grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Hussain is celebrated as a voice who spoke reality to tyranny and stood up for the oppressed. Whereas its origins lie in Islamic historical past, Who’s Hussain is a non-religious organisation that welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds, dedicated to serving to anybody in want, regardless of their color or creed.
“It’s about spreading love and humanity and hope,” says 27-year-old Shah Abbas, who works on the earth of finance by day and volunteers as a group chief every week. “I noticed a poster for Who’s Hussain on the tube in London. His rules had been to struggle towards injustice, inequality, stand towards oppression and provides again to the group you reside with. It’s one thing that we’d like on this world proper now.”
Two volunteers practise their smiles because the company arrive.
The queue of individuals lining up for a sizzling meal is proof of this want. Based on CHAIN (Mixed Homelessness and Data Community) eight,096 individuals slept tough in some unspecified time in the future in London throughout 2015/16 — an increase of seven% from the earlier yr. Between 2010 and 2015, the variety of tough sleepers within the metropolis doubled. In his marketing campaign for the London mayoral election, Mayor Sadiq Khan acknowledged this worrying development, stating: “Homelessness is changing into an more and more seen scar on London’s streets.”
Who’s Hussain serves about 100 sizzling meals each weekend, however the volunteers emphasise the mission is about rather more than meals. Looking for to fight the loneliness and neglect that comes with homelessness, handing out meals presents a gateway to dialog and a chance to construct significant relationships. Aiming to supply long run options, they run extra actions together with CV workshops to assist company achieve employment. Their pop-up barbershop in October was a selected spotlight, offering the straightforward treatment of a contemporary haircut to depart company feeling assured and empowered.
Devoted to breaking down the limitations between the company and the volunteers, in 2015, the group took their dedication to a different stage — they determined to spend three days sleeping tough.
“We thought, ‘We have to take a step additional. We have to really feel what it’s prefer to be homeless,’” stated Shah.
The choice to spend 72 hours on the road was additionally straight impressed by the legacy of Hussain.
“Fourteen hundred years in the past, Hussain had 72 followers that stood by with him to comply with his rules, his ethical of giving again to the group, combating injustice,” Shah stated. “We need to be remembered as a kind of followers. So to honour these 72 followers, we did 72 hours homeless.”
World Citizen meets the group leaders. L-R: Zeenat, Yosola, Zoe, Shah, MJ, Muhammad
25-year-old Zeenat, who runs the meals desk, defined the challenges of tough sleeping as a lady.
“As you’ll be able to count on, sanitation was a giant problem … utilizing the toilet. You couldn’t simply go while you wanted to go,” she stated. “At one level we needed to sneak right into a restaurant.”
Regardless of spending just a few nights on the road, she admits their privilege was nonetheless seen.
“Sure, we had been sleeping tough however did we actually look homeless? For people who find themselves genuinely homeless, they do have a sure look, they do get a sure stage of judgement. In the event that they had been to stroll into a giant chain restaurant to make use of the toilet, would they get stopped?”
The extent of the function reversal shocked the volunteers.
“We met a person referred to as Dave* whereas we had been doing the problem,” stated Shah. “He was on the road. We had been in a queue for meals. This gentleman approached us and stated ‘You’re the Hussain boys proper? You’re those who feed us meals?”
“He stated, ‘You’re in my territory now, I’m going to take care of you.’”
Dave helped them navigate life on the streets, taking them to completely different meals drives for every meal to ensure they had been fed, and defending them from the dangers of tough sleeping.
“He sorted us. One of many stunning tales was, he went again of the queue in order that we obtained fed first,” stated Shah.
On the meals drive in January, Dave was charmingly blunt concerning the volunteers’ naivety.
“None of them had a clue. I needed to train them,” he stated. “They helped me, so I assumed, now I’ve obtained to assist them.”
A former soldier who served in Iraq in the course of the Gulf Warfare and Eire throughout The Troubles, Dave had been homeless since 2012. He recurrently visits the meals drive, and believes passionately within the work they’re doing.
“It’s not about faith, it’s about serving to individuals,” he stated.
“Now we have to understand what we’ve got,” says 6-year-old Mariam when requested why she enjoys volunteering along with her household.
Dave’s story is an instance that the cycle of homelessness might be damaged. He is had some excellent news currently. Now in everlasting lodging, he’s presently finishing a plumbing and fuel course — with a job lined up .