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Pakistan Muslim Centre Culturally-appropriate food for Sheffielders in need

Located on the edge of Darnall and Attercliffe, The Pakistan Muslim Centre (PMC) has been in operation for over 30 years.

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Well-known to the community as a venue for parties, weddings, meetings and training, as well as for its advice services and its community radio station Link FM, PMC is housed in an old school building just off Woodburn Road.

As the coronavirus lockdown took effect, PMC recognised that the immediate needs in the community would be great. As many Muslims in Sheffield prepared to begin fasting for Ramadan, PMC mobilised its catering staff and equipment to set up a Community Kitchen.

Shahid Ali from PMC tells me they have been getting 50-60 fresh meals out to Sheffielders every day since mid May, a total of just over 800 at the time of writing. In particular Shahid notes the importance of culturally-appropriate food in the context of coronavirus.

"It's all well and good giving food parcels to people, but if they can't cook something they're used to, especially the people from BME communities [...] people find it very difficult."

PMC has been delivering family packs and finger meal trays, as well as Ramadan Food Boxes, in collaboration with partners all over the city. Those who aren't in direct need can buy meals for themselves or for others via their Community Kitchen website, with any profits going back into the Community Kitchen efforts. Taxi drivers have been volunteering their time to make deliveries.

"We've had a significant number of sales and donations that have really supported us to make the free meals available," Shahid says.

When the Centre was founded it was serving mainly the Pakistani and South Asian communities nearby, but these days it reaches a wider group, with recent deliveries to White British families on the other side of the city, as well as nearby Yemeni and Somali communities.

Shahid stresses the importance of collaborating with other "community focal points" and charities in the city to make sure work isn't duplicated, efforts are joined-up, and people can empower each other to achieve lasting impact.

PMC plans to continue delivering daily meals to residents for at least three months. They're also excited by 'remote presenting' for their community radio station Link FM, a recent move which has seen listener numbers, 'live hours' and public feedback increase during lockdown.

And beyond lockdown?

"We need to be on-site. People come to us. People who need help and support like that physical presence and that human touch."

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