A soup kitchen is expanding to open a food bank with hopes of supporting families reluctant to ask for help.
The InTouch Foundation Food Bank will officially start later this month, but already the organisation has helped people referred to it.
InTouch Foundation founder Osman Gondal hopes that by collecting donations in mosques, South Asian families will be encouraged to speak out and request support.
“What we’ve found is that 90 per cent the people using food bank services across the Bradford area are, generally speaking from white local backgrounds.
“I know there’s a need within the South Asian community and that people from this community aren’t coming forward - we’re conducting research to find out what the cause is.
“We’re going to be working with the mosques and that will be a direct link with ourselves. People can talk to an iman and tell them why they are struggling. It’s taking the mosque back to what it was, which is a community hub.”
Mr Gondal said it was too early to say why South Asian families were less likely to come forward, but suggested it was perhaps cultural and a lack of knowledge about services on offer.
“People don’t know what’s on offer to them, they’d rather contact friends and family,” he said.
The food bank, which will be run entirely by women, has always been part of the plan for the InTouch Foundation which runs weekly soup kitchens in Bradford, Shipley and Keighley.
Mr Gondal said the food bank, which gives out food parcels to last between three and five days, was about more than handouts.
“It’s not just about the pack. It’s about what support we can give to people as well, whether that be healthy eating advice or financial planning - how you can stretch a pound to last a day rather than just going and getting a 99p chicken and chips.
“It’s a more holistic approach.”
People will be referred to the charity service through agencies such as job centres and Bradford Council. The service will be piloted in Bradford working with ten mosques and three schools, with plans of expanding later.
Mr Gondal said InTouch Foundation was a non-political organisation, but he felt welfare changes had led to more people struggling.
“There are some people that are really struggling and don’t know where their next meal will come from,” he said. Earlier this week the InTouch Foundation was contacted about a mother who had completely run out of money and had no idea how she was going to feed her children.
“Within hours we were able to provide her with an emergency food pack.”
Mr Osman said food would be collected weekly from mosques, schools and other centres and stored at Sharing Voices base in Clifton Villas, Bradford.
The organisation is appealing for help to buy pallet racking to store and pack the food for distribution.
Anyone who can help should contact Mr Gondal on 07865 994953.