Festive fine dining for Leeds’ homeless

Mumtaz restaurant, Chadwick Street, Leeds, is putting on a fine dining meal for the homeless..Pictured from the left are Adam Hussain, Sajed Mahmood  and Danish Rayhan are pictured with the food....12th December 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Mumtaz restaurant, Chadwick Street, Leeds, is putting on a fine dining meal for the homeless..Pictured from the left are Adam Hussain, Sajed Mahmood and Danish Rayhan are pictured with the food....12th December 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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Christmas will be coming early to the city’s homeless and rough sleepers.

Around 60 people from Leeds and the surrounding area will be able to tuck into a turkey tikka masala with all the trimmings as part of a special three course fine dining experience.

It is being held at the Mumtaz Indian restaurant on the waterfront where the chefs will be creating a special menu for the event on Monday along with the usual extras.

Sajed Mahmood, chief executive of the Just Give charity has been the driving force behind the initiative - one of the first in the city.

He told City Buzz: “It is a dinner that they never would have had in an environment they might never have.

“They are usually in the cold or a soup kitchen but they will be mingling with each other and will have that experience.

“There are wider issues there to tackle but they are there to enjoy themselves too and that is one of the main things that we wanted to do for them.”

The homeless attending the event have been referred via hostels, the Salvation Army and St George’s Crypt.

In addition to a much needed meal and festive cheer, the event for some of the city’s most vulnerable people will be an opportunity for them to make their voice heard.

Also attending on Monday will be some local MPs and boxers who will be giving up their time to meet the city’s homeless and listen to their plight and how they ended up on the streets to help raise awareness of the homeless situation in Leeds.

Mr Mahmood said: “They will be face to face and able to ask questions of MPs. They would never have had the chance to do that - they don’t even know who their MP is.

“The MPs and councillors can face this, see these guys and ask what they need to do. Some have a story about where they started from and what put them on the streets.

“It will give the public a better understanding and the dignitaries can face up to the fact that these guys need help and they need to help us help them.”

However, the festive fun at Mumtaz is only a short-term remedy and the Just Give charity is looking at more long term solutions to the homeless problem in Leeds which is worse than official figures would suggest.

The ultimate plan is to have a centre where people in difficulty can go to address the underlying reasons for their being on the streets such as alcohol or drug addiction and prostitution.

He added: “Homelessness is not a small thing. It has been there for a long time and nobody has done much about it and we want exposure for that.

“The real thing that we want to do is get these guys off the habits - whether that be alcohol or drugs - that keep bringing them back onto the streets again. They are not getting the support they need.”

One project that Just Give is working on is to source an unused or redundant council building on a peppercorn rent that can accommodate people that are homeless, put a roof over their head and give them access to other services such as mental health, substance misuse, employment and housing.

A foodshare with supermarkets donating goods that have to be taken off sale due to the dates is also being set up.