In 2009 Nishkam SWAT trustees discovered over 200 homeless people in our local area, Southall in Middlesex. This problem was deep rooted and complex involving many associated issues such as immigration status, addiction, alcohol and mental health - something we had had no previous experience of dealing with, it was all a whole new world for us. We looked at the council to help, faith leaders, the police and rapidly explored every avenue available to us but ultimately all roads led back to us - we acknowledged we had a shared responsibility to help and to make a positive change in the lives of those living on the streets. We felt compelled to help as our duty as good citizens to serve in the communities we live in. Ironically, we were naive to realise that this project would turn out to be the biggest of all our projects! This was the start of the Homeless Project.
This wonderful hope filled journey of compassion started when one homeless man extended his arm towards us for help, he then gave us exclusive access us to a hidden homeless community of over 200 men of all ages living on the street, under bridges, in refuse collection rooms, all with different and complex issues. These men all had pride, none of them wanted to be seen as victims but with homelessness comes a host of associated problems often being a downward spiral without adequate care and rehabilitation. During the next four years we battled with local agencies ranging from the police to the council, immigration, health services, drug support charities, the list goes on to help and provide support and care for this 'forgotten community'. Finally in 2012 with the awareness raised from media outlets including the BBC and national mainstream newspapers the situation was at a place where we felt was 'controlled’ with the problem reduced to just a handful mainly men living on the streets in Southall who were still being supported by our now fully flourished network of over 150 volunteers.
We then felt redundant, over these 4 years we had built up a huge resource from some major blue chip organisations, rather than to call them and say our work was over we decided to take the message of our Guru and the ethos of our work to the wider audience to Central London, from 1 day a week we very quickly started another and then another. From one location we setup our next location which was Camden, and so we started setting up outreach services for the homeless and less fortunate organically, where the need was most.
At this point, the organisation then came to a pivotal point of its evolution. As a team we felt redundant, over these 4 years we had built up a mammoth resource network from some major blue chip organisations such as blankets donated by British Airways or the constant supply of energy drinks from GlaxoSmithKline, rather than to call them and say our work has concluded we decided to take the message of Guru Nanak of serving others less fortunate to the wider audience. The service we provide is not tailored to a specific community or ethnic group, we are an all inclusive faith based and value led charity serving all of humanity regardless of caste, creed, colour or faith. This then brought us to Central London. We started serving once a week on the Strand which is a stone throw away from the famous Trafalgar Square amongst the hustle and bustle of office workers and tourists who could very clearly see the need for the service with us serving up to 300 people at one single session. We then very quickly added another outreach session and then another and then another. With the help of our network of dedicated volunteers we were able to expand our locations so we were able to reach and help even more people we setup our next location which was Camden, and so we started setting up outreach services for the homeless and less fortunate organically, where the need was most. Today we are blessed to be serving in 11 locations serving 17 times a week and are continuously expanding.
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