Saira Mir is the founder of the charity Plate For You, an open door service that does not require referrals. They provide hot meals as well as working with health organisations to ensure the well-being of their guests. The charity has been awarded third place for the World Interfaith Harmony Week Awards 2017, created by HM King Abdullah II of Jordan. They have also won an award from the Free Faith Forum Organisation for creating safe spaces for the homeless. Change the Script sits down to chat with her about Plate For You at the Goodge St forum.
She tells us that the services that the charity provides have now been extended from hot meals to food banks and clothes drives. She has also recently gotten involved with having talks with the local GP’s to try and provide a service for those who are unable to access the public funds to use for healthcare. “The reason I founded this was that I realised there are a lot of people who are in need despite being in the fifth wealthiest country in the world. We as Muslims are taught to be charitable, and so this is very important part of why I do what I do. I run this with my family and the volunteers who give up their time to do this,” Saira explains.
We briefly talk about how she feels non-Muslims perceive her as a Muslim woman and she shares her thoughts, “You get it from all sides you know, from our own community and outside. People in our own community can be very judgemental, they might see something you are doing and outright tell you that you are going to go to hell for that! The thing is everybody has different ideas and opinions.” She points out that ultimately it varies from place to place, and no one person will have the same outlook. Saira provides us with a great analogy on plastering labels on to everything, “We read stories in the Qur’an, for example, the one where a prostitute was given place in heaven for giving a stray dog some water. Did anyone ask the dog if it was a Muslim? No!” The lesson to take away from her example is that regardless of being a Muslim or not, you should always be kind and caring, being charitable is the way forward.