A Walsall voluntary organisation says it could help far more vulnerable people in the borough if it had more volunteers and supporters. Maz Surti, co-founder of Walsall Outreach, talks to Jayne Howarth about its work.
Volunteers making deliveries
A Walsall voluntary organisation is hoping to attract more sponsors and volunteers so it can expand its work throughout the borough.
Walsall Outreach, which was founded by Maz Surti and Nadeem Ashraf in 2016 to help vulnerable people in need, has grown into a respected and well-established organisation that has helped to feed hundreds of families – and its work has increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past two years alone, it has delivered 10,000 food parcels to those who were unable to access food banks or who needed additional support, and also delivered hundreds of home-cooked meals and fish and chips.
Over three days at Christmas, its volunteers cooked and delivered more than 120 hot meals, gifts and food hampers to disadvantaged families, the vulnerable and elderly residents who live alone.
Every week it delivers hot Sunday lunches to 20 elderly people in the town, while on Fridays, fish and chips are delivered to about 40 families and individuals.
Now Maz is hoping more sponsors will come forward to help fund the much-needed meals for those in need – as well as volunteers who can help to deliver them.
“We know there is a growing demand for our weekly hot meals and we urgently want to be able to meet the increased need but to do so we really need businesses and individuals to support us by sponsoring the service and every pound really does go far,” she said.
“Our volunteer chefs are professional cooks who prepare the Sunday lunches every week and we’ve had incredible support from local people, as well as generous donations from the National Lottery, Walsall Council and Palfrey One Big Local.
“These have enabled us to continue providing meals to vulnerable residents, the elderly, refugees and anyone else who needs a meal, as well as organise fish and chips to be delivered every week. But we’d like to do more because we are being contacted about others who need our help.”
Maz said there are stringent systems in place to ensure recipients of food parcels and meals are entitled to receive help and that Walsall Outreach works regularly alongside other organisations, such as the Refugee and Migrant Centre, Walsall Council and Humanity First Walsall.
She said while there is a small band of dedicated volunteers who help to deliver meals, it would like to add more names to the rosters to cover for illness or absence.
“Walsall Outreach is a voluntary service that has actively been supporting the homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged families in Walsall over the last six years,” explained Maz.
“Our volunteers have supported thousands of families pre pandemic and during it. We continue to support the elderly and vulnerable with our meal services and would like to work with business that can help us reach out to more people that need this service.
“Walsall is a town I grew up in and this service is something that means so much to me. There are so many people out there who are struggling silently; they don’t have any support nor do they have any contact with anyone for days maybe even weeks or months.
“Our service supports those that need help with a hot meal, a friendly chat, guidance and support but most importantly some much needed human interaction.”
If anyone is interested in finding out how to support Walsall Outreach, contact Maz on: email@example.com. You can also reach the organisation via Facebook.