One of Britain’s youngest Imams is supporting community efforts in south west London during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adeel Shah, 26, is part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which includes the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, one of the largest mosques in Europe, and cites his faith as his biggest motivator.
Mr Shah said: “The reason we’re doing this is because Islam teaches us to help our neighbours and to play our part in society.”
Since March last year, the Ahmadiyya community has delivered 673,000 pieces of PPE on behalf of the government and 10,036 food packages to front line workers.
Using a hotline, the Ahmadiyya community assisted vulnerable people with errands and emotional support.
The effort helped 21,407 households.
The Ahmadiyya Community also supports the Croydon Nightwatch, where they send volunteers every two weeks.
Mr Shah said: “Different families offer to make food. They cover all of the costs.
“We’ve had to increase the amount of food we make.
“It’s rewarding seeing that you’ve put a smile on someone’s face.”
Jad Adams, chair of Croydon Nightwatch and volunteer since 1979, said: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has continued to support us throughout the Covid period and it’s been very welcome.”
The demand for support has increased as the problem of homelessness worsens and volunteers are driven away due to Covid restrictions.
Mr Adams said: “A lot of our volunteers had to step back because they were old people and they were self-isolating.
“Overnight, we were left with huge holes in the rota, we just didn’t have enough people to go out.
“It was a period which was perilous to be working in. At the beginning it was hard to get masks. We didn’t want to go on bidding sites to get PPE which deprived care homes and hospitals. People would sow cloth masks for us.
“Quite a lot of people in the Thornton Heath area and in West Croydon were working cash in hand in warehouses and shops.
“When Covid came, those shops all closed down and they literally had nothing at all, they were coming to us for food.”
Due to lack of provisions in other boroughs, the Croydon Nightwatch has found themselves supporting people from Southwark and Lambeth.
As current restrictions on evictions expire, support will be needed more than ever.
Mr Adams added: “Eviction is going to start again. Eviction had been what was running homelessness in London. It was powering homelessness.”