A driving instructor from Keighley is hosting an Indian street food event for the first time on Saturday 11 December, to raise money for his soup kitchen where he gives out free hot meals every Sunday evening to people in need in the community.
For the past year and a half, Javid Iqbal and his family have given up their Sunday to hand out free hot meals for people in Keighley and Bradford. So far, they have managed to give out a massive 10,000 meals.
Mr Iqbal who owns Prestige Driving School pays out of his own pocket for a catering company from Halifax to deliver rice, chickpeas, and vegetable curry to Keighley every weekend. Once delivered, the meals are divided into portions and handed out in the community with a bottle of water.
Mr Iqbal started giving food last year after he was bored one night sitting at home. He said: “In all honestly, we started it because it seemed better than just watching TV at home in the evening.
“Every Sunday we do the free meals, but in two weeks, we are doing a one-off event to raise money for our charity. We are going to do streetstyle samosas, pakoras and channa chaat.
“It is the first time we are doing it, so we hope people turn up and help us raise money and awareness.”
It is very much a family affair, with Mr Iqbal’s son Haris, doing most of the work for Prestige Gives Free Food. “My two daughters, Aishah and Maryam, and my two other sons Mohsin and Hasan, also help with organising the free food”, Mr Iqbal said.
“We started during the pandemic last year. We started giving food because we live in Keighley, we see homeless people under bridges or sleeping rough, and we weren’t doing anything during the pandemic, and so rather than doing nothing, we decided to give out food and see if anyone would turn up.”
With a lot of people in need of free hot food in Keighley because of homelessness or job losses due to the coronavirus, Mr Iqbal has seen hundreds of people turn up week after week.
He added: “Oh, my goodness, we had such long queues. It was horrific. I remember last November it was freezing and we had this lady with an eight-year-old girl. It was snowing, we had sleet and they didn’t have an overcoat on, just wearing torn clothes.
“When I was putting food in for the girl, she literally looked at me as if she was going to fall down if she didn’t get the food there and then, she was that hungry.
“We had elderly people over 70-years-old literally starving, it is horrific in this day and age. We are one of the richest nations in the world, and I’m not into politics, but it is mind-blowing.
“We continue to do it every Sunday and people are literally still starving for food.”
Mr Iqbal and his family hand out between 100 and 200 meals every Sunday. “Some people come in and take food for the kids as well, so they take six or seven meals in one go.
“As we are in Keighley, we have people coming from Bradford who take two or three buses to get here to get some food. It is an eye-opener.”
Mr Iqbal also said: “I don’t know how it started really but it isn’t something that I want to give up now. I want to dedicate everything I have around it.
“We are a family-run organisation and do not judge nor ask any questions whatsoever to the people who get food from us.”