Midland Langar Seva Society: Meet the Leeds charity going above and beyond to help and feed the homeless
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Based on Sikh-based principles, Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS), established in 2013, has spent the last decade striving to help people in need regardless of their social status.
In this time, the charity has grown to support people beyond the Midlands and to other UK regions and has even established bases internationally.
Operations in Leeds began in 2019. The charity has a focus on ‘langar’, the Punjabi term for free community kitchen and an important concept in Sikhism, and the Leeds base has been providing food for the homeless.
Kul Lally, a long-term member of the charity who takes a lead on outreach, said: “I think MLSS is inspiring. And to start, especially in the city centre, seeing people on the streets, it’s just something I couldn’t stop myself from doing. I am really passionate.
“During winter and the Coronavirus, we weren't really able to provide food for the homeless in town so I started dropping off parcels to the hostel too.”
The charity started off with a small radius of operation, in the city centre, and has slowly moved out – but Kul said she wants to reach more areas of Leeds.
At present, MLSS Leeds drop off parcels to St George’s Crypt, some deprived areas in Leeds and women’s hostels.
The Leeds team consists of about 20 volunteers in total, some of whom make the food parcels which consist of sandwiches and pasta, and others who prefer being out and distributing food.
But the charity relies on donations from the public and other organisations to carry out its outreach.
It has seen a number of Leeds restaurants donate regularly. Portside, a popular fish and chip shop located in Kirkstall and Moortown, and Sardar Jee, a Punjabi restaurant in Chapeltown have supported the work of MLSS consistently.
But MLSS is more than just providing food for people in need. Kul has helped many people with other challenges they may be facing.
She said: “Some of the people I've spoken to they're like, ‘I've got kids, but they don't speak to me’, they've got addictions which they can't stop by themselves.”
Kul regularly visits a women’s hostel to help provide basic necessities they may be lacking, but she has also helped people attend doctor’s appointments and find jobs.
She added: “[One person] didn't have any ID. So that was a big, big thing. We had to apply for his ID and get his passport sorted so he find work or find a flat.”
Find out more about Midlands Langar Seva Society and how to donate items or get involved with the charity on its website.