The Curry Circle – Addressing Poverty
Muslim Women’s Council aims:
- To provide an opportunity to engage in volunteer work and civic life.
- To feed those in need.
- To address the various needs of those facing poverty.
- To provide clinical care.
- To provide mental health support.
Bradford, once the richest city in Yorkshire at the turn of the 20th century, is now poorer in almost every indicator than others across the county. Bradford District suffers from below average household income, educational attainment and employment and above average levels of debt and fuel and child poverty. Demand for food banks is soaring and debt advice services under unprecedented strain. Funding streams are scarce as local and central government retrench so even volunteer led services cannot meet the increasing demand:
- Over 150,00 people in Bradford live in areas ranking among the 10% most deprived in the country
- Bradford has higher than average levels of fuel poverty and child poverty and lower than average levels of educational attainment, employment and household income than Yorkshire & Humber and the UK
- The most deprived areas are concentrated in and around central Bradford and Keighley, where child poverty rates also tend to be higher
- Demand for foodbanks and soup kitchens is growing faster than their capacity to grow, with hundreds of food parcels being distributed in Bradford each week
- Household debt in Bradford is higher than the national average and demand for Council-funded debt advice services to help families cope is outstripping supply
Food is essential to us all. In recent years increasing numbers of people in our communities have struggled to access good food cheaply and easily. People are going hungry.
In response to the local food poverty we created the Curry Circle to help feed people. It provides a free hot curry, hot drinks and a clean warm environment on a weekly basis for 70-80 people. Over the last 12 months we have supported 4,000 people and since starting over 20,000 people. Those who attend are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, made up of 41.9%% white British, 12.5% Pakistani, African Carribean 41.9%, Eastern European 2.3% and 3.7% other.
We have a bank of 450 volunteers who come and help throughout the year to deliver the service. This is one of the few provisions that offer an out-of-hours service, from 5pm to 10pm; allowing users experiencing in-work poverty to access services out of routine working hours.
In addition, to the hot food we also make available cold take away food. We also offer additional support and guidance; and currently work in partnership with Bevan Healthcare to provide clinical care via ‘Street Medicine’ and provide mental health support via an art project. The Curry Circle acts as an opportunity to use food as a way of bringing people together to address isolation found across our District. Where conversations begin and friendships are made.
Based on requests from users we are now exploring how to address ’period poverty’. With increased migration to the area and growing poverty the issues surrounding menstruation have increased. We have found that there are not many food banks and asylum seeker drop-in centres providing feminine hygiene products – despite a growing desperate need. In this current time of poverty, women have to decide between their sanitary health and food on the table, with some resorting to using toilet paper, scraps of fabric, or nothing at all.
Furthermore, through our regular engagement and services supporting local women and girls, we know there are many of them who are still facing taboo and stigma surrounding period and menstruation. Much of this is based on cultural/religious thinking and taboos around menstruation and has an effect on how women can define their lives. Poor menstrual hygiene has negative effects on both the environment and the education and health of girls and women, and can also diminish economic opportunities.
To support the project please contact us on 01274 223230 or