A CHARITY for the homeless and vulnerable is calling on businesses to donate food.

Every Wednesday from 7pm, up to 30 volunteers from Hands of Hope, run by dad-of-four Shakeel Chaudry, gather on Byron Street, Blackburn, to hand out food and essential items like clothing and bedding to those less fortunate.

Mr Chaudry’s charity has been running since 2017, but he has been helping the homeless for four years.

He said: “I have seen a lot of hate in the community towards each other, and I wanted to start something that gives back to the community.

“Someone else was supplying drugs to the homeless and I had to stop that, and turn it around, by supplying them food and support.

“I wanted the community to realise that we can help anyone regardless of faith or ethnicity, it’s about being compassionate.”

Hands of Hope also runs other projects and has raised over £20,000 thanks such as sponsored bike rides from Manchester to Blackburn.

The group also visited the Rohingya victims in Bangladesh, where Mr Chaudry said: “I cried more than I helped because their stories are so overwhelming.

“We are quite fortunate as we have a roof over our heads.

“We can and should use our life to help others and give our time.

“Blackburn Rovers have also been very supportive and regularly provide us with hats and things to hand out.”

But, the group feels that businesses could do more to help the homeless feed, and the community should volunteer with them.

He said: “A lot of businesses like Farmfoods, Greggs and local petrol stations all give us food, but there are so many other takeaways and places in Blackburn who could help out.

“Homeless people are still humans, they bleed the same, they are no different.

“They may have drug issues, but this is a problem in the society that leads them to that, and they need support.”

They also run events for the elderly and give presents at Christmas to children’s hospitals.

Mr Chaudry has also revealed that the charity will be working to help the parents of six-year-old Harrison Aspden, with cancerous tumours across his body.

He said: “I saw the story and decided that Hands of Hope would help raise some money for the parents, as his mum had to give up her job, and it is a lot of pressure to be under.”

The charity plan to host a fundraising evening.

To volunteer or donate food, visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/786HandsofHope/