By ANISAH ARIF

This time of the year is mostly associated with the festive period of Christmas, along with the dropping temperatures making it unbearably cold to step outside.

But what is often overlooked, is the people on the roads with a placard in their hand, reading “Spare some change for food”.

Homeless is a growing issue in Bradford, where even 800 children will be homeless in Yorkshire this Christmas, the charity Shelter reported earlier this year.

However, the owner of Café Rawal, has decided to step up and help support those who may be struggling this cold period.

Local businessman Wasiq Butt, has created a new initiative where he will be serving hot meals to all those in need free of charge this winter.

The “Feed the Hungry” scheme began on Monday and will be from 7pm to midnight, providing a hot fresh dish of chicken curry served with 2 chapatis, for anyone who needs it.

Wasiq Butt told the Asian Sunday: “This initiative is really close to my heart. It’s very important to tackle homelessness around this time of year when it is cold, when the weathers bad. People are queuing outside shelters, there is no place to eat or sleep.

“As a business, we have always had a soft spot for the homeless. My grandparents used to be homeless back in Pakistan. My father worked and sent money back home. It is our duty to give back whatever we can, to the community. Whatever success we have today is because of the public”.

Wasiq tells us that he is unsure how long he will be running this scheme, if sustainable, hopes to run it throughout the year.

After midnight, him and the team spend their time wrapping leftover meals and handing them out on streets to people who have may not yet heard of the campaign.

Before starting this idea, Wasiq said he approached all the food businesses close by on the same road, to run the same initiative but did not receive any response.

Although the idea is to help those in need, there are no stopping people claiming the free meal.

He told us: “We have had one customer who is a regular customer for us and we know him really well. He came in to claim the free meal, so we did not refuse. Even though we knew that this person is or seems to be doing fine, and is taking the right of someone who needs it more, we are not judgemental. If someone comes in a flash car, in nice clothing, we will still not refuse if they need it. All I ask is to be mindful of others, you could be taking the last portion of someone who will genuinely does need it”.

He goes on: “A woman came in also, who told me she was part of a support group of mothers. She told me of some mothers in the group who three children. They had enough food to only feed two children, and not the third child. They would buy one burger meal and cut it into three pieces. It brought tears to my eyes.

“We are lucky enough to be fortunate to be provided with a roof over our heads and food on our plates. There are some people whose parents are working hard, but they can’t make ends meet.

“I come from a very charitable family, where we use every opportunity to give back to those in need. If everyone just contributed a little each to the community, we would not have these problems. Problems won’t go overnight, but as long as you are trying, you will feel better”.

For more information visit: facebook.com/Caferawal