“I keep in regular contact with my members due to their vulnerability. Many of them have no family and live alone. Even those who have a family, experience lack of support from their families.  They have mental health issues. Their situation is made worse due to physical health problems, making some of them virtually house-bound. They have high mobility assistance needs.

We cater for women of South Asian origin who have mental support needs and physical ill health, who have been facing stigma because of their health conditions.

During the COVID-19 crisis, their movements are further restricted and they can’t come to our centre for a hot meal, prayers and relaxation. Some of them who live with their children, face neglect or abuse which is made worse because their children themselves feel under financial and other pressures these days.

To help with all of these things, we started  a phone helpline service for such women. During phone conversations, some of them told us that they felt scared or caged. Some of them were unable to go out for grocery shopping due to the extra restrictions as they are old and with underlying conditions. That meant that they had nothing to eat. So we started providing them hot meals. These meals are prepared by our single staff member who also delivers the meals twice a week to those members who would not have any hot meals otherwise.

Salma Lokat, Chair of Safe Heaven for Women (a project of MCRC Ltd), said, “Our vulnerable members are stuck at home due to current restrictions on going out. They face double disadvantage of being a woman and also having mental health support needs. I could not accept that they had to go without any hot meal for days. That feeling made me start these additional services. I am grateful to SFI for their financial and other support for this vital service and I hope it would continue until this crisis is over.”

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