Leeds kidney donor couple expanding homeless charity they run in city

A couple who both donated kidneys to their son who is still shielding are seeking to expand the charity which they run to help homeless people in Leeds.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 6:00 am
Aky and Tina Suryavansi - who run charity Homeless Hampers - pictured with son Akash and donated food for homeless people. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Aky and Tina Suryavansi started volunteering at Homeless Hampers in 2016 because they wanted to "give something back to society."

The couple said they were so grateful after both were able to give the gift of life to their son Akash, who was born prematurely with serious kidney problems.

The couple, of Alwoodley, soon took over running Homeless Hampers, which has grown to meet demand over the years.

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Aky and Tina Suryavansi - who run charity Homeless Hampers - pictured with son Akash making a meal for homeless people. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Aky and Tina now spend the majority of their free time helping feed homeless people in Leeds city centre.

Akash, 22, and his twin sister Dinish have always been involved in helping prepare food parcels and meals for homeless people on the streets and in homeless shelters.

The charity - which is helped by retailers including Greggs, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, Aldi and Morrisons - feeds hundreds of people per week and also helps vulnerable families.

Restaurants including Singh's on Roseville Road in Leeds also donate food to the charity, which works with Leeds City Council and other partners.

Homeless Hampers volunteers in Leeds city centre

The charity has launched an appeal to buy a van so they can help deliver donated furniture and household appliances to vulnerable people setting up homes.

The couple went to extreme lengths to keep Akash safe from Covid and he is continuing to shield, despite having had both his Covid jabs.

Mum Tina, 51, who works as a senior medical rota coordinator in A&E departments at Leeds hospitals, moved out of the family home for 10 months to eliminate the risk of passing on Covid.

Akash’s twin sister, Dinish, moved in with her, leaving Akash with father Aky, 53, at the family’s home in Weetwood.

Homeless Hampers volunteers in Leeds city centre

The family reunited before Christmas after renting a bigger, five-bedroom house with a separate bathroom for Akash in nearby Alwoodley.

Akash's kidneys had not formed properly when he was born prematurely in June 1998 and at just a few weeks old he was on dialysis.

Tina donated one of her kidneys to Akash in 2004 when he was aged six.

The kidney started deteriorating in 2015, and in October of that year Akash suffered a double brain haemorrhage, affecting the mobility of his right side and his speech.

Aky underwent surgery to donate a kidney to his son in November 2015.

Aky, who works from home for Macmillan Cancer Support, said Akash has had both his Covid jabs but is continuing to shield as he is extremely clinically vulnerable.

As well as his kidney problems, Akash also has a heart murmur and suffers from diabetes.

Aky said there were only a handful of volunteers when the couple started helping out Homeless Hampers in 2016.

Now there are just under 500 volunteers registered with the charity.

"We used to hand out about 30 meals," said Aky. "It's gone from that to being a fully fledged charity with more than 9,000 followers on Facebook.

"We were both fortunate to be able to each give Akash a kidney to give him a second and a third chance at life.

"We were grateful and wanted to give something back to society."

Aky said Homeless Hampers has launched an appeal to raise funds to buy a van so it can help transport items including furniture.

"We are helping homeless people set up home," he said. "We are providing white goods, carpets and curtains, or whatever they need."

To donate to the Homeless Hampers appeal to buy a van, go to www.homelesshampers.co.uk and click on vehicle appeal.