Hundreds of volunteers from across Leeds and Bradford gave up something ‘more valuable than money’ last weekend as they spent their time helping others in the city.
As part of the national Hindu-led Sewa Day, people from all religions came together to help support the local community through 17 different projects.
Amongst them were food and clothes collection for the homeless, clean-up initiatives and even the harvesting of fruit.
In total, over 600 hours of voluntary work was carried out on Sunday 16th October by 170 local volunteers while £1,500 worth of food for the homeless was donated to a Bradford foodbank.
Harkishan Mistry, a local co-ordinator from Bradford, was full of praise for all those who helped out on the day.
“The turnout on Sewa Day was fantastic, over 170 volunteers took part in some wonderful projects that demonstrated just how people can join together to put a smile on the faces of each other,” he said.
“Sewa is not about giving cash donations-just giving up something more valuable – your time and seeing the joy on some of the faces was priceless.”
Sewa day has been running for six years now and is the universal concept of performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward.
From two-year-olds to 70-year-olds, the range of local volunteers this year spanned many decades.
Joining the predominantly Hindu group was Cllr Angela Tait, of the Royds ward, who helped clear two snickets in a team clean-up mission.
She said: “I had an absolutely fantastic day working with the team. We carried on working hard despite the very wet soggy rain and even had a two-year-old in our group who seemed to enjoy himself as much as I did.
“Team work really does make a difference and between us we made light work of the job in hand making a huge difference in the community.”
Sam Singh, speaking on behalf of the Bradford Curry Project, also praised the group for their generous donation of over 800 food tins and hundreds of pounds worth of tea and coffee.
“We in Bradford are in a situation where homelessness has increased by 30 per cent since 2010, according to the Crisis Homeless Monitoring Team,” he said.
“With the ripple effects of the austerity measures kicking in, this figure will only increase in the years to come.
“The Bradford Curry Project has been helping provide meal to the needy of Bradford for over 30 years; this would not have been possible without the kind donations made by the good people of Bradford taking part in the events such as Sewa Day.”
Sewa Day is a national initiative which is now in its sixth year. Thousands of volunteers from various organisations took part in numerous projects, aimed at relieving the hardship and poverty of others.
Manoj Ladwa, one of the Sewa Day Trustees, commented: “This year we have seen people come out and do ‘sewa’.
“Thousands of volunteers gave up their valuable time to do something positive in the community, which I know has bought a lot of joy to those less fortunate and to the volunteers themselves.
“Our focus this year is ‘Every Day is Sewa Day’ as we aim to make volunteering and making a difference in our local communities a regular activity.”
Sewa Day also featured at the Diwali in the Square celebrations in London on 16th October with key supporters including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan giving their support to this global volunteering initiative.