Supporting the needy has always been at the heart of award-winning salon owner Prity Farooq.

The Bradford based businesswoman recently partnered up with Candy Nicholson of Pathway Kitchen in Leeds, following a campaign on social media to donate bags of essentials for vulnerable and homeless women.

Prity has established a successful award-winning salon called Prity Skincare located within the heart of Bradford community. However, getting here hasn’t been an easy ride. Prity who came to the UK from India in the 90’s worked hard to raise her family. Doing double shifts and working all hours, she saved enough money to open her own flagship salon in 2005.

Prior to opening her salon, Prity revisited family in India in 2005 and an experience there really changed her outlook on life. During her travels she met an old woman in a nearby village. The woman approached Prity as she was passing by, with tears in her eyes pleaded with Prity if she could help her. The lady who was probably in her 70’s or 80’s had highly severe and inflamed skin on her head and was in need of medical care which she clearly didn’t have the money for.

“I remember I couldn’t sleep that night; I just couldn’t stop thinking about the old lady, wondering how many others were going through similar hardships and struggles.” Said Prity

“The next day I got in touch with an old friend who was doctor in the area. I told her what was on my mind and that I wanted to help those who was less fortune than me for something as essential as medical treatment. From then on till today I have been fortunate and blessed to be able to donate money for the treatment of needy and poor patients in the downtrodden areas of India and Pakistan.”

The patients in dire need of financial support for medical treatments are looked after with the help of contributions through a medical camp that is organised by the hospital. There are a couple of families in Pakistan who Prity and her husband support financially too and have taken the financial responsibility of the children from both families and a water pump is fitted in different villages each year.

However, despite the support in India and Pakistan, Prity felt she wasn’t reaching out and doing enough to give back. Learning from her own struggles she knew more needed to be done, especially as she began to learn that here at home in the UK more and more people are beginning to rely on foodbanks or are vulnerable below the poverty line.

Things really hit home recently when Prity’s husband was admitted to Leeds General Hospital for an operation. While visiting her husband Prity would meet and interact with many homeless people.

“I saw many people who were homeless it was very saddening. It upset me.” Said Prity

“I felt a need that I should do something, make a difference somehow even though at that moment in time I had no idea how. Whilst interacting with the homeless people the most common concerns I heard from them was the feeling of being invisible to the world is what really drags them down. For some a bit of human interaction with a stranger on the streets can give them the mental and emotional lift so even if we’re strapped for cash, we can still offer a few kind words.”

The female entrepreneur returned to her salon that day and discussed her experience with her team, who then suggested to gift the vulnerable and homeless with a bag of essentials. Immediately with the help of her team 50 packs were made which consisted of; sanitary pads, soap, lip gloss, tissue pack, sweets and a toothbrush. A social media post was then created to ask anyone who is struggling or for any organisations who work with the vulnerable to get in touch and take these packs as a starting point to help the needy.

Prity was inundated with responses, and out of the many replies, she chose to work with Candy Nicholson who runs Pathway Kitchen in Leeds for the homeless and unfortunate.

The salon owner chose Candy because she herself had a remarkable story and as a result of her adversity is today helping the less fortunate.

Prity feels Candy is an inspiration in what she is going through and how she deals with her adversities. In 2012 Candy met with a serious brain condition where there was no cure. Candy has had extensive brain surgery with huge risks. Candy is herself living on borrowed time, as the surgery was completed but the illness remains. So, Candy decided to put her efforts into giving back. In 2013 Candy climbed Kilimanjaro where she raised more than £7,500 for research of her condition which is called Chiari.

In 2014 Candy was to trek the Alps, three countries in three days but sadly it was cancelled, she did eventually achieve this in 2015 and raised more than £2,500 for Fanconi Anaemia, a life limiting condition which her neurosurgeon’s son suffers from as a thank-you.

However, before achieving her goal trekking the Alps, Candy was disheartened when it was initially cancelled and felt useless. This gave her an urge to get back out there and do something else to help people. So, she took off on her own, driving from Wakefield into Leeds city centre, with a trolley full of food, flasks of hot coffee and hot tea, clothes and sleeping bags tied on her to try and make a difference.

She was inundated with messages after posting on social media warning her it wasn’t safe out on the streets by herself this is when she encouraged others to come out and help. Candy built an amazing team of volunteers who come out week in week out no matter what the weather is like and that’s how Pathway Kitchen was born.

Candy said: “Helping the homeless doesn’t just mean handing out hot food sandwiches, clothes, tents and etc. It’s about gaining their trust enough to get them off the streets. We’ve been lucky; we have been able to get quite a few off the streets. One has moved away, lives in a flat and works full time, he’s very happy.”

Candy found her purpose in life and that is to help, inspire and encourage others to do the same, according to Prity Candy is an angel in disguise and has inspired her to want to do more.

The two women have now collaborated to do more with Pathway Kitchen, which kick started during the festive period where Prity was able to donate another 30 bags of essentials which were distributed on New Years Eve on the streets of Leeds. In addition, Prity made a cash donation which has been spent on socks, bras and boxer shorts, with some money left over which went towards buying bottles of water, snacks and biscuits to put in outreach packs that each homeless person takes.

Prity says that on reflection she has realised after meeting these individuals was that, homelessness can affect anybody, it’s not just people that we believe may have fallen off the edge of the society. It can be you or me, or someone we once knew. She advises: “Please do not look away. There can be no greater cruelty.”

Prity and Candy have formed a great friendship from their joint vision to help the needy and together they hope to continue working to support the work of Pathway Kitchen and are urging others to do the same.

For more information contact Prity Skincare on 01274 307040 or visit Facebook page @Pathwaykitchenleeds.