A group of volunteers is donating hampers of food to hungry families across Greater Manchester this Diwali to spread positivity and light as the festival takes place.
The festival of light falls on Thursday, 4 November this year, and is celebrated by a number of religions including Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.
The group – known as the Diwali Basket Brigade – comes together every year during the festival to prepare, pack and deliver hampers to struggling families living on the poverty line.
This year, it has delivered over 2,500 to people in Greater Manchester, London, and Birmingham.
Each hamper is funded by donations, filled with £10 worth of essentials and other foodie items. Hampers are loaded with healthy veggie food, a handmade Diwali card, a Diwali ‘Diya’ candle, sanitary and hygiene products.
The initiative has a simple aim: to provide food hampers to socially deprived and vulnerable households from all faiths and backgrounds ahead of the festival of Diwali.
“DBB is our small effort to support and spread the message of hope, happiness, and giving to those in need from all faiths and backgrounds,” says founder Deepak Parekh.
“Diwali is a time of celebration and happiness. However, unfortunately, there are many people in our communities who, for whatever reason, don’t have much to cheer about.
“Some families struggle to make ends meet, others are simply feeling lonely or rejected by society.”
To date, over £30,000 has been raised for the cause.
Last year, the Diwali Brigade partnered with 25 different food banks and charities, including Salford Food Bank, and in 2020 alone managed to send out 35,000 meals.
Speaking on his decision to found the charity back in 2018, founder Deepak Parekh said, “Having followed the work of Tony Robbins for many years, I was inspired to volunteer at an event which he established several years ago, called the Christmas Basket Brigade, delivering food hampers to families in need, on the eve of Christmas.
“Following attendance to the first such event in December 2015, I felt it would be just as beneficial to organise a similar event, to celebrate the auspicious festival of Diwali and spreading the message of hope and giving.”
Following a serious back injury that left him confined to lying down for 6 months, Deepak had plenty of time to think. This was the impetus that pushed him to make headway on the project.
“It was not until I was forced to take time out of my busy life, of work and family, that I decided to put my idea into action through organising the first Diwali Basket Brigade event,” he explains.
“This took place on October 14th 2018, where a group of over 200 volunteers came together at the Balaji Temple, in Birmingham to prepare, pack and personally deliver over 350 food hampers to the doorsteps of families in need. In 2019, we collectively packed and delivered over 500 food hampers.
“The event has grown from strength to strength, and our ambition is to deliver as many food hampers as we possibly can to families of all faiths and backgrounds across the UK.”
Keir Starmer says Labour will ‘freeze’ council tax this year if elected
Keir Starmer has said he will “freeze” council tax in England this year if Labour triumphs in the upcoming local elections.
The Labour leader says his party will cut tax “for the many, not just for the top 1%.”
With the next local elections coming up on 4 May 2023, and Labour hoping to gain in its number of seats across England and Wales, Sir Keir Starmer appeared in Swindon today to launch his party’s election campaign, and hit out at the Conservative Party for being “nowhere near good enough” over their last 13 years of power.
Starmer notably blasted the Tories for their decision to raise tax-free pension limits in its most recent Budget announcement – which is set to benefit the most well-off in our society – and said Labour would counteract this and represent working people.
It comes after almost three in four local Councils say they are planning to increase the cost by the maximum amount allowed after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised the cap on council tax increases without a referendum from 3% to 5%.
Council leaders claim they have “little choice” but to increase costs as the rising cost of living crisis sadly continues to make its impact felt nationwide.
Speaking at the launch of Labour’s campaign today, Starmer stated “there is a choice on tax” for the public to make in the upcoming local elections.
He added: “A Tory choice – taxes up for working people, tax cuts for the 1% – or a Labour choice, where we cut business rates to save our high streets and where, if there was a Labour government, you could take that council tax rise you just got and rip it up.
“A Labour government would freeze your council tax this year – that’s our choice. A tax cut for the many, not just for the top 1%. So take this message to every doorstep in your community: Labour is the party of lower taxes for working people.
“That’s the difference we can make. That’s the choice in May. A better Britain.”
Starmer said he intends for the pledges he made in Labour’s local election campaign launch to “send a message to the government” after their 13 years in power.
“What they’ve delivered to our country nowhere near good enough,” he said
“We’ve got to get out there and show people the difference Labour can make. Let them see our hunger for change. We have to prove that this suffocating cost of living crisis, the path of decline the Tories have set Britain on, the endless sticking plaster politics, is not inevitable.