Maeve O’Sullivan in conversation with
Ben Rafiqi is co-founder of homeless outreach charity Let’s Feed Brum and Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter Tabor House. Maeve O’Sullivan is a PR & marketing consultant, 26 member and recent Birmingham transplant. Maeve and Ben met when she began volunteering for Let’s Feed Brum in early 2019.
Note 1: March-May
“Today was glorious,” says Ben. “There are beautiful moments all day long, if you look for them.” Ben walks around Birmingham for several hours every afternoon. The break prepares him for night shifts managing emergency homeless accommodation and co-ordinating food distribution.
Ben Rafiqi has spent almost ten years befriending and helping rough sleepers, co-founding an outreach charity and night shelter in the process. He has seen the lockdown unplug horrendous systemic bottlenecks, like the reduction of housing wait times from 8 months to 48 hours. This is good news, but Ben is working with people who have been institutionalized by a system that hasn’t given them what they need for too long, people struggling with mental health issues that are not being supported.
Ben can see the potential for long term change but right now, he says, “We have the ability to be human beings, stand alongside others, and demand that they be treated with respect and dignity.”