Glasgow Times: Glasgow’s Sikh community comes together in ‘astronomic’ aid response to Covid-19

AT THE beginning of lockdown, Glasgow’s four Gurdwara’s were forced to close and the Sikh community was scattered across the city.

Some seven weeks later, the community has since become mobile, helping more then 50,000 people in the city through their mobile foodbank deliveries and other initiatives.

Co-founder of the Sikh Foodbank Charandeep Singh told The Glasgow Times the “collective response has been great”.

He said: “We opened the foodbank on the 21st of March.

“The Gurdwara closed, and they are the hub of our communities. They are not only places where people worship, but where they eat, socialise, and seek advice and comfort.

“It was an incredibly quick turnaround for us in terms of thinking, “how can we adapt to this?”

“We knew that we have the kitchens and the resources and the people, and the effort was to mobilise that in a way that worked with the rules of lockdown and social distancing. Since then, we have delivered over 25,000 meals in seven weeks.We have helped elderly people, asylum seekers, refugees, unemployed people and those who are self-isolating. We have a volunteer network of over 50 individuals, all of different backgrounds.”

“It is a huge, multi-faith and urgent response we have delivered and it will be remaining well beyond lockdown being lifted. It’s an astronomical effort” said Charandeep.

Charandeep stresses the response effort is multi-faith, both in those delivering and those receiving.

One quarter of food parcels go to Muslim households as the project’s reach continues to grow.

Alongside these, they also deliver medicine and provide a language service to ensure everyone understands the crisis and developments as they unfold. Volunteers speak Punjabi, Hindu and Urdu.

Charandeep said: “We knew it was going to be big but this has surpassed all our expectations. There is something for everyone, all backgrounds.

Serving people all across Scotland, the project builds on the message of Guru Nanak and Sikh values of service and charity.

Many volunteers are from Sikh Youth.

Charandeep said: “It’s really important to us that people see young people helping. It really is a mix of people leading on it.

“We have people who used to be chefs cooking and working, others as drivers, others spreading the message.

“It really is heartwarming. It has been amazing innovation of services.”

Charandeep says the initiative has only served to prove the necessity of the services, even outside of the lockdown and pandemic.

In that way, the services are here to stay.

Charandeep said: “It really shows the commitment to Scotland in the Sikh community.”

First published on 18th May 2020. Reported by Carla Jenkins, Glasgow Times.