INTERVIEW: Sikh community leader to help homeless

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THE FOUNDER of Manchester’s Sikh Sewa Organisation (SSO) has pledged to help the increasing number of homeless people on the city streets.

Pritpal Makan was horrified when he saw the number of rough sleepers in Manchester.

His experience motivated him to get involved in addressing the issue hands-on.

“I took a walk around and when I did, I was horrified by the amount of people that are homeless, sleeping in doorways, sleeping by shutters, no sleeping bags or really, really wet sleeping bags.” He explained.

“It’s really, really horrible to see.”

After selling his business in 2004, Makan founded the SSO in order to give something back to the community.

The organisation gather every Sunday in Piccadilly gardens to provide a hot vegetarian meal, clean clothes, fresh sleeping bags and tents for those in need.

When it comes to Manchester’s homeless, Makan believes that it is important to be impartial.

“You’ve got to look at what the reasons are, what has brought them out on the streets.” He says.

“Could be divorce, a death in the family – you know you can’t judge them, you have to look beyond their circumstances and see that they are genuinely homeless, needy and hungry.”

The SSO aim to bring the Sikh concept of Langar to the streets of Manchester – the provision of a free meal for any dietary restriction or religion, with strong beliefs in community and equality.

“We’ve got some very, very kind donors in our community and the wider community.” Continues Makan.

“They take on the whole sponsorship for the event, for an entire Sunday. “

The so-called ‘Sunday Service’ relies on donations of money, food and clothes to help provide for those who need it.

The cooking itself is done every week in Guru Harkrishan Gurdwara, a Sikh temple located in the heart of Manchester.

Local people of all faiths and backgrounds have also took to contributing their own food and clothes to the organisation, which Makan claims has “become self-fulfilling.”

“Not everybody has got the time to cook and to serve each week but everybody has got it in their hearts to want to help, to want to give something from their income back to society.” He says.

Additionally, The SSO said: “We want to give thanks and gratitude to Guru Harkrishan Gurdawa for all their support and use of their kitchen facilities every Sunday to enable us to cook and serve weekly.

“We would also like to give thanks for all the support from volunteers and donors.

“It’s all about our wonderful, committed volunteers that sacrifice their Sunday’s weekly to make it possible.”

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