Diwali volunteers bring joy to Birmingham’s most needy
Over 200 volunteers have come together in Birmingham for the annual Diwali Basket Brigade.
The volunteers packed and delivered 525 hampers to the region’s needy in the annual Diwali Basket Brigade, attended by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant John Crabtree, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Consul General of India, Dr Aman Puri.
On Saturday 19 October, a staggering 7 tonnes of food (which amounted to 31,587 individual food items) were packed into 525 hampers and then personally delivered to socially deprived and vulnerable households from all faiths and backgrounds in and around Birmingham, ahead of the religious festival of Diwali.
The families were nominated by various local charities, schools and community-based organisations that have been identified as struggling to feed themselves and their children. This year’s event was supported by 218 volunteers, including 60 drivers who hand delivered the food hampers.
The event was also graced with the attendance of Lord-Lieutenant John Crabtree and his wife Diana, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, and Consul General of India Dr Aman Puri.
Diwali is one of the most popular Hindu festivals – also celebrated by many Buddhists and Sikhs – and local resident Deepak Parekh started the Diwali Basket Brigade as a way for the community to give back at this auspicious time.
Deepak explained “Diwali is a time of celebration and happiness. But unfortunately, there are many people in our local communities who are living on the poverty line and struggle to feed themselves. Diwali Basket Brigade is our small effort to support and spread the message of Diwali, the message of hope, happiness, and giving.”
The event has proved very popular and yet again was over-subscribed by volunteers. The number of baskets is almost double the previous year, showing both the need and passion from the community to get involved.
Volunteers range in age from children as young as four through to the over-80s, making the event a collective community effort.
The special Diwali baskets have been filled with quality food and other household products funded through voluntary donations.
The baskets included fruit, vegetables and a range of non-perishable items which were accompanied by a recipe sheet so that the contents of the baskets could be used to provide multiple meals for each family.
Each basket also contained a hand made Diwali card and a small electric light or ‘Diya’ in line with the festival which celebrates bringing light where there is darkness and hope where there is none.