A project which began life in Batley just two years ago is feeding homeless people in four towns and cities, linking up with local businesses and providing a platform for young people to not only help their communities but also learn life skills.
Ash Hussain, who is a youth worker of 12 years’ standing, started Batley Homeless Project in the kitchen of his mum’s Batley home and as well as drop-in sessions in the town each Saturday is also helping homeless people in Dewsbury on Friday evenings, Leeds city centre on Thursdays and Huddersfield on Wednesdays.
The charity also offers help and advice to other homeless projects, helps families who use fund banks if their need arises when food banks are closed and puts homeless people in touch with housing groups.
From an initial around ten people in Batley, the project now helps an estimated 45 people in Dewsbury, 35 people in Leeds and 15 in Huddersfield each week, he said.
Explaining why he decided to found the project, Ash said: “I wanted to give something back to the community. I come from a single parent background and know how hard and difficult life is.”
Forging good local contacts has been key, and meals and other items - such as warm winter clothing - supplied by local businesses have been crucial, including Chickano’s, Ali’s Fast Food and Frankie’s, all Batley, while in the run up to Christmas 100 Christmas packs were provided for homeless people by Mirfield Co-op.
“There is definitely more need for our service. People do struggle at the moment but we have got a lot of donations like those that make a difference.
“And in Batley and Dewsbury there has been a massive increase in people needing emergency food parcels when food banks are closed.”
The success of the project has brought groups with similar aims from towns and cities much bigger than Batley to see how it is done, including Nottingham and London.
Manager Ash’s background in youth work has brought many young people in to help at the project’s drop-ins and in turn it can offer them opportunities which otherwise have more recently been limited by Government funding caps, such as a citizenship programme currently under way for the over 13s aimed at helping them gain life skills and independence while helping and raising money for the homeless project.
This includes the young people raising money or gaining sponsorship for themselves to fund an expedition to Ben Nevis in Scotland in 2018.
Anyone wishing to help any aspect of the project’s work or refer people to it who may need its help can do so via its Facebook and Instagram pages on social media or by calling Ash on 07727 362326.