Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?
Nishkam Divine Service was founded by Manjit Chadha in 2018 and registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in August 2019. This charity was built from lived experiences with an aim to create a vision for humanity, where we can spread love and kindness, therefore, creating a better world for future generations where they would be free from poverty, abuse and suffering. In addition, linking back to our name which comes from the Punjabi word ‘Nishkam’ meaning “Selfless” a reminder that Nishkam Divine Service exists to offer selfless service to mankind.
Our mission is to serve the vulnerable and disadvantaged people of any age, race or religion. Also, coming from a diverse background of culturalism we seek to form partnerships with organisations and other agencies to promote community cohesion and general well-being.
Our journey began from volunteering at various other local charities where, we were able to learn more about the people who needed our help. Also, during the pandemic, especially during lockdown, we experienced an important turning point for the organisation as many were people in need of our services.
We are based in Ettingshall and we operate a food bank that was set up in response to Covid-19, supporting more than six local food banks in Wolverhampton on a weekly basis and also providing emergency food parcels to individuals and families in need. We have a number of different products that we provide including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, non-perishable food items, clothes, toiletries, baby items, household items and even furniture when possible.
Our involvement with the community through our food bank services helped us learn about the depth of impact Covid-19 had on people’s lives with job losses and benefit issues that led us to introduce our IT Skills training project. We managed to gain support from the European Social Fund distributed by Walsall Council to deliver training in Microsoft Office, CV writing, cover letter writing, communication skills, confidence building, Job Search, job interview skills, assistance with job applications, reception skills and administration skills.
Many people also started to develop emotional issues during the pandemic due to loneliness, self-isolation and bereavement; needing help that wasn’t easily accessible due to extended waiting lists with the NHS. We introduced our Mental Health & Emotional Well-being project in May 2021 during the Mental Health Awareness Week, offering counselling services in multiple languages, catering for the needs of the wider community and also supporting clients from Asian backgrounds.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Our greatest achievement has been the commitment to educating ourselves about the needs of the community and responding appropriately by introducing services to benefit those who may be struggling due to age, cultural, social or financial disadvantage.
Our dedication to our work has helped strengthen relations with local authorities, places of worship, other food banks and community groups helping to put together resources for the vulnerable people of the areas we serve.
We have been very successful in procuring grants from Heart of England Community Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund, The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and European Social Fund distributed by Walsall Council to support our projects.
We are also very grateful for the support we have received from the Rotary Club of Wolverhampton, Arnold Clark, NISA, the Charity Walk for Peace and Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation.
What is your experience of support received from WVSC?
Our experience of support from WVSC is very positive. We receive regular newsletters and emails informing us of updates and various funding opportunities that our organisation can benefit from to continue the delivery of our services. We also receive one to one guidance as and when required in a very professional manner. We’re very grateful to Sharon Nanan-Sen for being very helpful and assisting us in every possible way.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?
The most valuable lesson we have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton is that they are very passionate about developing new relations amongst different groups to build stronger communities. This collaboration and engagement has presented many opportunities to develop and advance to bring positive changes for the betterment of the whole society.
There is a consensus between these groups in recognising the importance of food banks, the need for IT Skills training with having to work remotely, the need to use digital technology in everyday life and the rise in mental health issues as a direct result of the pandemic. These groups work very hard to introduce projects to help people realise the importance of self-care, emotional well-being and financial independence.
The service users on the other hand are continuing to face emotional and financial hardships; struggling to free themselves from the cycles of co-dependency. They continue to experience challenges that are having a huge impact on the quality of their lives. The inability to socialise freely and enjoy doing the things they did before the pandemic is causing stress, anxiety and depression exhibiting a desperate need for a return to normality.
What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVSC help to support your organisation in the future?
The need for food banks is rising. Also, the general increase in the cost of living is having a knock-on effect on people’s finances, forcing them to seek help from charitable organisations. One of the main challenges we face is organising funds and resources to continue providing these services.
We also find that many people are reluctant to come forward for food bank or mental health services due to cultural and language barriers. We find it difficult to raise awareness and encourage people to come forward so that they can get the help they need. Our qualified therapists offer counselling services in multiple languages which is particularly highly beneficial to clients of Asian backgrounds.
We have the facilities to deliver IT Skills training to unemployed people from different communities where we offer flexible schedules to suit our client’s needs. The pandemic has made it very difficult for us to raise awareness and encourage people to benefit from the courses.
WVSC can support us by providing a platform for raising awareness, endorsing our services and introducing us to relevant agencies that can help our organisation to continue helping our local community.
Where can we find out more?
Contact: Manjit Chadha
Address: Saturn Centre, Spring Road, Wolverhampton, WV4 6JX
Phone No: 01902 494430
Mobile No: 07306 013506
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