Eddie Hughes MP swapped his parliamentary seat for a seat in a food delivery car on Wednesday evening. The Walsall North MP, alongside local Councillor Carl Creaney, spent the evening helping a community collaboration between Darlaston All Active and the nearby Guru Nanak Gurdwara Willenhall to deliver over 100 home cooked meals to those most in need in and around Walsall.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) has funded Walsall Council to be one of five areas in the country to promote community integration and this is the latest in a series of collaborations that has seen local people coming together to help the most vulnerable. From Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Adrian Andrew, helping to pack food parcels for families across the borough to individuals cooking meals in their own homes, donating to food banks, or volunteering to make deliveries, the response is testimony to the success of integration across the borough.
Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, Committee Member and Inter-Faith Events Organiser at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, said: “After our successful Inter-Faith Open Day last November I made a number of contacts within the community including councillors and local MPs. When the pandemic started I felt it was a chance to do something to help the community, a couple of phone calls later and I was in touch with Sharon Felton at Darlaston All Active.
“The Gurdwara had stocked up its kitchen prior to lockdown to feed its congregation, once we shut our doors that food was going to waste so we asked people to cook meals from their homes for Sharon and her team to deliver. There are clearly lots of people in need and we have started doing our own deliveries on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to those who contact us and are in need of a hot meal.”
The impact that the service is having on those struggling with isolation cannot be underestimated. Patricia, a local resident who lives with her daughter, said: "My daughter and I both love the food and appreciate everything the team do for us. Nine weeks we have both been shielding now, we so look forward to the visits.”
Eddie Hughes, MP for Walsall North, who spent the evening helping Gurpreet and the team said: “It was a privilege to play a very small part in the great work the Gurdwara is doing to help support people across the constituency during these very difficult times.”
Portfolio Holder for Community, Leisure and Culture Councillor, Garry Perry, who has developed a coordinated voluntary, community and faith sector response to the pandemic said: "The resilience and support offered via our community organisations has been a shining light throughout this crisis. I value the role they are playing immensely and at the appropriate time this will be both recognised and celebrated."