A Kettering councillor alarmed by the number of homeless people on the town's streets encouraged his community to join together to donate food and clothing to local people in need during the festival of Diwali writes local journalism student Kasturi Datta.
During the auspicious celebration of Diwali, Councillor Dr Anup Pandey appealed to members of the Kettering Indian Community to help him raise donations for a charity that helps the poor and homeless.
As the cold winter months were approaching, Cllr Pandey was growing increasingly worried about the number of homeless people in his town. As a member of the 'Kettering Indians' group, he was looking forward to celebrating Diwali - the festival of lights- with his family and friends at the time, and he believed that the abundance of togetherness and
prosperity surrounding him could be put to good use.
Consequently, Cllr Pandey reached out to Accommodation Concern, a charity based in Kettering that works directly with those who are homeless and suffering from poverty. He
spoke to them about his intention to set up a donation centre in an effort to help them out with the work that they do.
In a discussion about Cllr Pandey’s interest in the issue of homelessness, he said: “I witnessed many rough sleepers in the town centre, near the cricket ground and other common places. I was alarmed by how many I was seeing and felt that I had to inquire about what is being done. So I talked to the council about it and they told me there are few charities that can help until a final settlement is found for them.
“The council told me that they try to help as many people as they can, but not all of them fit under the criteria needed for them to receive help , and this is where charities step in.”
Cllr Pandey set up a page Facebook on to raise awareness of the donation centre and the reason behind it. Social media was an effective tool in terms of making sure this was a group initiative rather than an effort dependent on the actions of one person.
Cllr Pandey said: “Most people thought that they could help the charity individually, that there is no need to come together as a group. The whole concept of raising donations and doing this as a community was to promote the town’s Indian community.
“We have been living in Kettering for a very long time, but still most people don’t know much about what we do as a community. I chose to get involved with the charity during Diwali so that it would spread cultural awareness as well as spotlight the Indian community’s charitable efforts.
“We received a range of donations from clothes to food. Kettering Indians is not yet a registered group so unfortunately we could not receive money donations, but we still made a very significant difference to the town’s population of homelessness. I had not set a target in mind and so was very pleased by the response I received from the Indian community alone. It was very fulfilling to see many people coming together to help those who are alone.”
Cllr Pandey added a final note: “I would like to appeal to everybody to take out some time from your daily routine to do something good for the town community, because we are all a part of it. This community is only as good as we are so we need to be an integral part of it.”