Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
A Christian charity has called for stronger focus on helping the homeless cope with COVID-19, after an Ilford based homeless man named Pritham committed
suicide on Thursday.
Pritham who had been attending a meals for the homeless project at British Asian Christian Association's headquarters took his life by jumping from a train, in what his friends have said was increasing depression over self-isolation and a lack of support services.
The impact of the death was felt widely creating anguish amongst the homeless community and the charities that support them, many of whom new him well.
On Friday 3rd April, Pastor Andrew Willis, from High Road Baptist Church, broke his self-isolation temporarily, to give a short message of condolence and hope to the many homeless people who attend, a now daily, free evening hot meal prepared by BACA and their partners.
At the end of his prayer, he said:
"We smile, we pray that in the loneliness and separation, that somehow we will now, that still you are with us."
In the wake of the UK-wide lockdown instigated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, many local Redbridge support groups stopped preparing meals for the homeless and providing other support, due to a lack of volunteers who were either self-isolating due to COVID-19-like symptoms or for fear of infection. One charity ceased support while they awaited guidance on whether or not it was legal to continue. BACA however, continued our work after altering our methodology.
We then shared our risk assessment with several local groups and were able to coax Singh Sabha East London and SS Peters and Paul's Church to join with us. Now in collaboration all three groups and East Ilford Betterment Partnership who have been a long term partner, are ensuring homeless people have access to a hot meal every day, which is served from the Car Park of the Prince of Wales Pub, Green Lane at 6pm Monday to Sunday, with an additional meal at 1.30pm on Sunday. BACA is making their equipment and opening their centre to all groups to enable this to happen. Read more (here)
This video of homeless people still on Ilford streets, was taken on Saturday 4th April 2020.
Rather alarmingly, when seeking to deliver food to the homeless men to rear of Ilford Exchange, our volunteers found the street had been cordoned by local police. Fearing that other homeless friends had self-harmed the volunteers travelled the long way around the town centre and entered from the other side of the rear alleyway, after obtaining police permission. We found that the four men we serve were still residing and themselves were worried about the police presence, because of the danger of their proximity to a major crime. The men told us that there had been no offer of assistance to them, so we advised them to get help from the Welcome Centre in Ilford. We have reported our concerns about these and other rough sleepers known to us, to Redbridge Council.
Police block entrance to side street behind Exchange shopping last night (5th April)
Ilford's residual rough sleepers spend safer night than usual at their makeshift dwelling as police investigating a crime provide night cordon.
Working with Fareshare a charity that connect local groups like ours to major supermarket grocery stores BACA have also connected with 'Tesco Metro' Collier Row and 'Tesco Extra' Gallows Corner. Donations from these two stores have ensured that the local homeless, and people who were suffering financial hardship prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a consequence of lost employment due to the lockdown; are receiving help with essential food gifts. Our food bank runs daily and has continued operation during the pandemic despite other groups terminating services. Our Operational practice follows key principles of social distancing and good hygiene (especially that of hands). Our practices include: