A charity called the Diwali Basket Brigade has delivered food packages to families in lockdown across Birmingham in time for annual religious festival, this Saturday. The initiative dropped 2000 food hampers last Saturday alone, compared to 525 this time last year.
Diwali is the festival of lights and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. However, this year will be different as many people are not celebrating with family and friends due to lockdown restrictions.
The community initiative provided food hampers to vulnerable and socially deprived families of all faiths and backgrounds. They also delivered packages across London and Manchester.
Deepak Parekh, 45, who’s an accountant from Perry Barr, founded the Diwali Basket Brigade in 2018. He told Birmingham Eastside that he wanted to help local people in need.
“Diwali Basket Brigade is our small effort to support and spread the message of Diwali – the message of hope, happiness and giving. We can use this festive period to give back to the community but more importantly giving their time.”
He said “Diwali is a time of celebration and happiness. Unfortunately, there are many families in our local communities who have little to cheer about, struggle to make ends meet and feel rejected.”
The hampers included 35,000 meals of vegetarian food, a Diwali ‘diya’ candlelight and masks and hand gels. It was funded by 25 charity and food-bank partners and £25,000 worth of community donations. Some of the charities were Ronald McDonald House Charities, St Basil’s and KidsOut.
Due to Covid restrictions, the method of delivering hampers had changed. Through collaborative effort – they were required to work with food suppliers who handed food directly to the charity or food bank. This was then delivered to families by their own volunteers.
Deepak realises the challenges new restrictions will have on families during this festive time but urges people to remain hopeful.
“Whilst it is easy to say that it is tough on the community to not see family – we should put it into context. The impact of Covid on Diwali celebrations compared to the global impact Covid is having should be recognised.”