Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. In Hounslow, West London, which is one of the richest multi-cultural areas of the capital, Rotary used this festival of new beginnings as an opportunity to help the vulnerable.
By Dave King
Published Date: November 23, 2020, Rotary in Britain and Ireland website
Mukesh Malhotra from Hounslow Rotary has been the driving force for supporting a foodbank initiative in the Hounslow West Parish of two Anglican churches – St Paul’s and the Good Shepherd churches.
He explained: “I had put out a request to my friend Monisha Patil Bharadwaj from ‘Cooking With Monisha’ about doing something good this Diwali.
“I reached out and was so grateful to my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Hounslow and the local community who continue to support the Hounslow West Parish foodbank.”
Mukesh said that as a result of the social media appeal, the response from the community was immense. “I ended up making six trips to the foodbank in our 4×4 vehicle, with essential items from tins, rice, pasta and other essential items,” he added.
Hounslow Rotary has been supporting the foodbank and The Open Kitchen and the Hounslow Community FoodBox, ever since they started and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead of buying fireworks, sweets and gifts, we would encourage the community to help your local foodbank during the lockdown.”
Before the lockdown, the Rotary club would ask their families and friends to contribute towards their #EveryCanHelps programme.
This would generate between three to four bags of groceries and hygiene products, and the community has continued to give throughout the year.
Demand for the foodbank has increased by more than 60% as families are referred by Social Services and community workers. There has been an increase in demand from refugees, aligned to more domestic violence cases being reported.
Mukesh said that the St Paul’s Foodbank was constantly needing to replenish its supplies, particularly nappies, tinned desserts, sanitary towels, bags for life, tinned vegetables, tinned meat, oil, toilet rolls, tissues and washing powder.