UK mosques welcome homeless amid temperature plunge


Several mosques across the UK and Ireland have opened doors to welcome the homeless with shelter and warm food as the temperature deadly blizzard continues to hit the region.
Widespread snow and unprecedentedly cold temperatures following the arrival of the “Beast from the East” polar vortex and Storm Emma have so far claimed 60 lives in eastern Europe, most of them rough sleepers.
The UK Met Office issued a red alert for snow, the highest level of warning possible. The red alert has remained in place due to extremely icy weather.

“The temperature is pretty severe, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we do something to help?’” Rabnawaz Akbar, a trustee of Makki Masjid in the northern city of Manchester, said Sunday.

The Khizra Mosque in Cheetham Hill has also been providing various services to the vulnerable during the day.

Community volunteers have been staying at the mosques to attend to the city’s homeless, giving them food and shelter and even shower facilities.

Oldham councilor Fida Hussain said the European Islamic Centre would keep open over the course of next seven days, or until the weather improves.

“People have been fantastic, doing all they can and coming together to help those in need,” he said, noting that taxi drivers had offered to move the homeless to the mosques free of charge.

“Here in Oldham, volunteers have been going out into the cold around the town centre looking for homeless people and bringing them to the centre.

Similar steps have also been taken by mosques in Ireland to help with the homeless situation.

“We will have a security team on duty at night, and maintenance teams have been alerted to make sure there is sufficient heating in the building, especially late at night,” said Summayah Kenna, head of community welfare at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland.

Some other mosques have started to hand out sleeping bags to the rough sleepers.

Jamie, a homeless man sheltered at one of the mosques, said despite the negative coverage that they were receiving, UK mosques were doing a job that local authorities had failed to do.

“They made me feel very welcome, gave me something to eat, to drink. Something that the basic council can’t even provide for us,” he said.

The move comes amid increased hate attacks against Muslims and places of worship in the UK.

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