Hundreds of food parcels have been delivered to some of the most vulnerable residents in and around Solihull since a huge relief project was launched in March.

Community groups mobilised to form the Solihull Muslim Network as the impact of the crisis began to take a major toll on local residents.

Refugees, victims of domestic abuse and elderly residents left isolated by the outbreak are among those to have benefited from efforts co-ordinated by the team of volunteers over the past five weeks.

And at least 600 food parcels and around 400 hot food deliveries have been made since a number of borough organisations got together to set-up the initiative.

Cllr Shahin Ashraf (Green, Shirley South) said that the project goes from “strength to strength” and it was heartening to hear from residents who have said they had not seen this sense of community for decades.

“Sometimes you’re delivering to people and you see their date of birth is 1929 … people who say it’s just like the war or when Britain was building itself back up again,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

“There is a real community feeling, a real sense of solidarity and togetherness.

“The biggest thing is how Silhillians have come out to support, whether it’s clapping in the road or giving their time or their donations.”

The network was officially announced on March 25 by representatives of The Hub community centre, in Hermitage Road, the Olton Project and the Solihull Islamic Education Academy.

In the launch video, Dr Anika Arshad, from The Hub, said the aim was to provide a lifeline whether residents were “Muslims, our wider brothers and sisters, NHS staff, immunocompromised, the vulnerable, the elderly…”

The network has forged links with other groups; some of which were also set up following the coronavirus outbreak, with others already embedded in communities.

Last month, Easter eggs donated by the Friends of Shirley Park – after a planned family event had to be cancelled – were distributed to the most vulnerable.

Cllr Ashraf said a major challenge in the early days of the operation was responding to the flood of offers of support; work is needed to sort through donations and actually make the deliveries to residents.

Many of those driving have been furloughed while others have to juggle the rota with day jobs and there is now the added challenge of managing the workload during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Donations for items to include in food parcels can be dropped off to The Hub between 5-7pm. Products with a lengthy shelf life – such as tins or dried goods – are ideal.

Source: Birmingham Mail[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]