As part of our commitment to supporting our local communities, we’re proud to be able to offer free storage space to various local charities and raise their profiles through our Behind Blue Walls series. This week, we’d like to highlight the amazing work of Nishkam Swat (a charity based close to Safestore Chelmsford) which is dedicated to bringing practical help to the homeless.
Nishkam Swat’s aims
‘Swat’ is an acronym for the Sikh Welfare & Awareness Team. They work on the Sikh belief that everyone should feel loved, live in safety, be respected and be able to achieve their full potential.
Based on the teachings of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, Nishkam Swat serves thousands of free Langar meals each week. ‘Langar’ is the concept of a free communal kitchen, a place where fresh, nutritious food is prepared and donated to those in society who need it. Guru Nanak advocated this religious duty as a way of promoting equality among all. This ‘selfless service’ (‘Seva’) as provided by Nishkam Swat has meant that thousands of homeless and hungry across London have had hot meals and - more recently - access to healthcare.
History of Nishkam Swat
Founded in 2008, Nishkam Swat was initially concerned with improving the lives of local young people. Founder Randeep Singh began by providing a youth club in Southall where young people could go to play football, learn martial arts, play games and engage in workshops on gang culture, alcohol abuse and drug addiction.
Then one day in 2009 they were visited by a homeless man, who asked for help with gaining access to accommodation as well as food. This led the charity to find out more about the local homeless population and they established their Homeless Project. Liaising with immigration, the police, local councils, housing charities and community centres, Nishkam Swat quickly improved the lives of those they helped.
Nishkam Swat Homeless Projects
The help that Nishkam Swat provided to over 200 local homeless men in Southall eventually meant that the charity was effectively redundant in that area - they had helped to resolve long-standing problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, immigration problems and mental health difficulties so that those men were able to be accommodated and move on with their lives. The charity didn’t want to stop there, though, and merely shifted the geographical focus of their aid, spreading their work to neighbouring districts and ultimately abroad.
Having gradually increased in frequency over the years, Nishkam Swat’s Langars now take place several times each day and provide a free, hot meal to 1,000 homeless people each week. They now work in 13 different locations across London and far beyond, in:
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Nishkam Swat Healthcare Project
A 26-mile “Zero Hunger” walk by the Nishkam Swat team raised enough money (an amazing £40k!) to buy and fit their Healthcare Ambulance - a groundbreaking way to provide essential healthcare services to the homeless. Partnered with Tesco Pharmacy, Nishcam Swat are able to deliver free ‘flu vaccines; local dentists volunteer to carry out hygiene assessments and provide toothbrushes and toothpaste; local opticians provide eye tests and eye health examinations.
These are services that homeless people would otherwise struggle to access for a variety of reasons yet are vital to allow those people to live with dignity and without pain or discomfort.
Support Nishkam Swat
We’re delighted to be able to store Nishkam Swat’s non-perishable food and cooking equipment at our Safestore Colchester
branch. If you can help by providing food and/or money to support this fantastic charity, you can visit their Just Giving page here
or get involved
via their website.