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.”
Ancoats restaurant publicly exposes ‘angry influencer’ after spat over free meal
A restaurant in Ancoats has publicly exposed an influencer (twice…) who tried to ask for a free meal in exchange for exposure.
Lucky Ramen, a tiny spot on Blossom Street that has had queues forming for its noodle soups and Asian brunches, has become embroiled in a spat with an unnamed social media star.
It all started yesterday when the restaurant went public with a message it had received, which was requesting a complimentary brunch in exchange for a post on Instagram.
Lucky Ramen shared the message and wrote that they were ‘thrilled you appreciate our food’ but that the team ‘appreciate paying customers even more’.
They described it as ‘another thrilling DM from a blue tick superstar asking for a free feast in exchange for an Insta post’.
Which was already dramatic enough, but the influencer in question has been quite cross that Lucky Ramen in Ancoats has taken a swipe at them publicly.
It appears they’ve followed up with a much less polite message, saying the independent business is ‘bang out of order’ for trying to expose them.
The influencer asked: “So you think people like us don’t deserve to eat for FREE???”
They argued that they were trying to promote the restaurant for free, offering ‘time, labour, effort and positive energy’ in exchange for the free meal as compensation.
The unnamed user then said: “Your arrogance makes me sick. Haha very funny, you got a couple of giggles but we’re the ones that are laughing.
“We go where we want, eat what we want and lastly – it’s all for free! WHOS LAUGHING NOW???”
Of course, Lucky Ramen hasn’t left that message in the DMs either, once again sharing screenshots on its Instagram page.
And they’ve chosen to smack the influencer with pure sarcasm in retaliation…
They wrote: “Dear angry influencer. Okay, aaalright… you got us! We’re truly sorry for attempting to uncover your behind-the-scenes tactics yesterday and, you know, us trying to make a living and sh*t.
“But hold on, the new message we just got deserves more than a standing ovation!
“This follow-up DM is a total game-changer, and guess what? We’re now rolling out the red carpet for all the free meals you desire. And that’s not all – our chefs are ready to part ways with their Crocs and Birkenstocks, throwing them in as an extra bonus for your tender love and labour! Even my dad’s medal of honour from the Japan war is up for grabs – he’s feeling generous the old geezer, and he’s even contemplating wheeling in his new eco-friendly hybrid wheelchair for you!
“Just hit us up with another DM, let us know when you’re swinging by to collect your well-deserved goodies, and don’t forget to leave a glowing 5-star review on both Google and TripAdvisor.
“We appreciate your understanding and, once again, sorry for the “inconvenience” we caused.
“Bon appétit + Arigato-the-f*ck-outta-here.”
Will the influencer reply again? Someone pass the popcorn.
‘Dangerous’ disqualified driver jailed after crashing into funfair in Wigan
A “dangerous” disqualified driver has been handed jail time after crashing into a funfair in Wigan last year.
Jordan O’Reilly, from Platt Bridge in Wigan, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, perverting the course of justice, and failing to provide a specimen.
The 21-year-old was given three years behind bars following a trial at Bolton Crown Court yesterday (29 February).
O’Reilly’s sentencing comes after he crashed his vehicle into a funfair in Wigan while trying to evade a police pursuit back in October 2023.
#JAILED I A disqualified driver who led police on a chase and crashed into a crowded funfair in #Wigan has been jailed for 3 years
After failing to stop for a Greater Manchester Police (GMP) patrol, O’Reilly then drove in excess of the speed limit and overtook a number of vehicles, all before proceeding to abandon his own moving vehicle to escape.
The vehicle O’Reilly abandoned then carried on moving, and shockingly, ended up colliding with two members of the public at the funfair – with one woman sadly left with “serious injuries” as a result.
But thanks to the help of members of the public, O’Reilly was identified as the driver and later arrested by police.
A ‘dangerous’ disqualified driver has been jailed after crashing into funfair in Wigan / Credit: GMP
After he was released on bail, it was established that he had attempted to engage others into assisting him in evading prosecution.
Speaking following O’Reilly’s sentencing this week, PC Wood, of GMP Transport Unit, commented: “O’Reilly’s disregard to his driving disqualification and actions behind the wheel that day were reckless and dangerous, and he put countless people at risk of harm. The injuries caused to the victim show the consequences dangerous driving has on other people.
“GMP would like to thank the members of the public who ensured that O’Reilly faced justice for his actions.”
PC Wood also took a moment to remind the Greater Manchester public that if they know someone who is driving whist dangerously, or while disqualified or unfit to be doing so, then they should report it to GMP.