A NEW food voucher scheme has been set up to help families in need and restore a sense of “dignity”.

The Bradford Foundation Trust has supported vulnerable families for many years and often provides for asylum seekers, refugees and those who have no recourse to public funds.

As the pressures of pandemic hits people’s finances, the trust has handed out thousands of meals to vulnerable families alongside businesses, community organisations and Bradford Council.

But with more than 900 people from over 50 different cultures and ethnicities, it has become increasingly difficult to create a food parcel that “best meets the needs of all these families”.

Many families had been concerned about having to come into ask for food, expressing reluctance and a sense of shame. The trust revealed how the type of households using its food bank service has changed throughout the pandemic, including many people who have been made redundant and are desperate as they wait for a universal credit application to be approved.

And as the new virus strain spreads around the country, Mr Hussain hopes it will also be a safer alternative to get help to people without the movement of parcels and deliveries around the city.

The trust continues to deliver food packs for families who may not have access to transport as well as those shielding and self-isolating.

Shadim Hussain, a member of Bradford Foundation Trust, told the Telegraph & Argus: “As time has progressed, we now are serving people from over 50 different cultures and ethnicities. Therefore, it is almost impossible to create a food parcel that best meets the needs of all these families.

“We have worked alongside a number of retailers in Bradford and developed a new voucher scheme where families will be provided with a voucher at a store close to them. We believe this scheme will give them the dignity they deserve to have a choice in what they eat.”

If any asylum seeker or destitute families need help with food over the Christmas holidays you can call the emergency number on 07394 117053. The service will be available every day 10am-6pm from now until January 3.

With the vouchers valid at a number of different shops, the trust hopes more businesses will join the list of brands involved with the scheme and email info@bradfordft.org

Explaining why his business is taking part, Yusef Asghar, CEO of Kanapeena Supermarket, said: “The levels of poverty and deprivation in Bradford is really worrying. Vouchers give customers choice of what food they buy and gives us an opportunity to help those most in need in a dignified way.”

Bilal Ghafoor, CEO of Manchester Superstores, added: “There is a great need in the community and under privileged families and children are struggling more due to the pandemic.”

Over at Frizinghall Community Centre, businessman and trustee Zafar Mahmood, part of a group of volunteers feeding families across Bradford, described the “brightness” on people’s faces when they receive a package. Their packages support single parents, disadvantaged families and asylum seekers.

Mr Mahmood said: “When we hand out food to them, the looks on their faces, it’s clearly fantastic – the brightness, inside they feel happy.

“Myself and all the trustees and volunteers, I’m very grateful to them. It’s not easy. People talk but delivering it is not easy. We try our best to help our community.

“We give them fruit and nourishment for healthy eating. We have curries, pilau rice, chicken curry. Some days we give them a sweet dish.

“It’s different everyday.

“People are coming from all over now. We have ones from BD2, BD9, BD18. It’s mainly Frizinghall.”

The community centre’s Winter Food Support scheme will operate between 1-2pm until January 3.

Meanwhile, the Youth Association and Roma community handed out more than 1,500 meals have to residents at risk of going hungry in Great Horton.

Dmitry Fedotov, operations director at The Youth Association, said: “In a year like this one families need more support than ever to ensure they can put food on the table for themselves and the kids. So with the support of Stronger Communities at Bradford Council, that’s what we’re doing, we’re with some local residents and some local young people who are volunteering their time to distribute somewhere in the region of 1500 meals to the community of Great Horton, particularly reaching some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families.”

Matt Henderson, who works for Bradford For Everyone, added: “Bradford For Everyone are proud to support the work of the youth association and their community ambassadors working in Great Horton to bring communities together to support each other and tackle challenges together, they’ve been amazing especially during the pandemic.”