They say charity begins at home and so it was that the Homeless Project in Brighton was first conceived by local resident and Deen Relief founder, Shabek Ali, in the winter of 2010. Since then, Deen Relief has continued to regularly provide a lifeline of support for thousands of vulnerable people living rough on the streets of Brighton.
For the past ten years and more, Deen Relief has been blessed with the generous support of local businesses and individuals who have all collectively made the Homeless Project possible. Currently, we are supported by the Group 4 Homeless People which is a collaborative effort of local Muslim and non-Muslim ladies who tirelessly donate their time and effort to make freshly prepared nutritious food such as chicken biryani, curries, pasta dishes and on occasion pizza, ensuring that there is always a vegetarian option. There are also local Brighton businesses such as Taj Stores and Gail’s bakery who provide drinks, cakes and bread. Our dedicated volunteers collect the donations to be given out to the homeless on the seafront by the Peace Statue in Brighton. Deen Relief is extremely grateful for everyone’s selfless contributions which have together helped give some hope to the homeless. Without the crucial support of this team effort, we would not have been able to continue this vital work in helping the needy in our local community.
Deen Relief is also very proud to have won the BBC Sussex Local Heroes Award in 2017 for our work with the homeless. However, as a charity, our greatest achievement will always be to bring a smile and some respite to those whom we are here to serve. That is a true measure of our success.
One of our dedicated volunteers is Rami Mansour, a local Brighton resident who has been helping the Homeless project since its very early days in 2010. We caught up with him recently and asked him a few questions about his work with Deen Relief.

Q: When did you start volunteering with this charity?
A: I remember hearing about the Brighton Homeless Project at our local mosque back in 2010. Shabek (Ali) was looking for volunteers and I immediately signed up.

Q: What is your role in the Homeless Project?
A: I work as a steward with other volunteers on the seafront where Deen Relief sets up tables for food, hot drinks and clothes distribution on Sunday afternoons below the Peace Statue. I help by making sure every homeless person is able to collect something whether it’s freshly made home-cooked food, a hot cup of tea or winter clothes and sleeping bags if they need it. Sometimes we even give out toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other practical items that they may require.

Q: How many of you work in this project and what kind of people get involved?
A: On average, there are 15 volunteers but we also get many students from both Brighton University and the University of Sussex who offer their time. The volunteers are diverse in age, nationality and belief systems but we all work as an integrated team with a common goal. Many of the volunteers work in the medical field as nurses or doctors and in social and community work.

Q: Is there anything else you do for the project?
A:Yes, because all of our items are generously donated either by businesses or individuals in the local community, in the early afternoon on Sundays, we usually we go in a small team collecting all these things. Then we set up the tables later on at the seafront.

Q: Is the Homeless Project a regular event?
A:Yes, Alhamdulillah, the Deen Relief team are out on the seafront every Sunday afternoon at 6pm so the homeless people know when they can expect to see us. It was only during the Covid lockdown that we had to temporarily suspend our activities. However, during lockdown, Deen Relief volunteers diverted their attention to focussing on providing food daily to those working on the front line with the NHS.

Q: It’s been ten years since you first joined the Deen Relief team. What motivates you to carry on?
A:It gives me great satisfaction knowing I’ve done something for someone however small it might be. This project gives the homeless people something to look forward to every week. Without it, they probably would have nowhere else to go for help. We welcome any homeless person irrespective of their story. Not only that, but I work with a great team where we are all dedicated to a great cause – serving Allah through serving humanity.

Q: Have things changed over the last ten years since this project started?
A:Yes, definitely! In the beginning, with all the negative media that Muslims have been subjected to, I think some people were a bit wary at first. But over time, we’ve become a familiar presence on the seafront and now homeless people are more than happy to stop by and pick up the items they need.

Q: What about your future with Deen Relief?
A:I’m more than happy to stay on and help out when and where I can. It’s so humbling to be involved with the people I volunteer with and those we are there to help. The Homeless Project is an example of real grassroots work and I feel that in this team, we connect, learn and hopefully will continue to make a small change to those who need it.

If you wish to make a difference to a vulnerable person’s life, then volunteering with Deen Relief is a great place to start. You can contact us by visiting https://www.deenrelief.org/volunteer/ and fill in the online form. Once we receive your application, we will be in touch as soon as possible, insha’Allah. Together, we can work towards a brighter future for all.

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