It’s late, your family is hungry, and there’s nowhere else to turn.
But sometimes, just sometimes, superheroes can be real — and will be there for you when you need them most.
Enter the Bearded Broz — the furry Avengers fighting hunger in Birmingham’s poorest communities.
Take Action: Call on the EU to Halve Food Waste by 2030
Imran Hameed and Naveed Sadiq founded the Bearded Broz in spring 2017 — and Hameed soon set up Salma Food Bank in Smethwick in memory of his mother, who died when he was 17.
Last year they fed 9,500 families across the West Midlands — sometimes as many as 64 families in one day. Crisis food packages are delivered within three hours.
“We make sure that no one goes to sleep hungry,” Hameed said to HuffPost UK. “We deliver food to people’s doorsteps. It’s a part of our religion. A Muslim is not a Muslim if he sleeps at night satisfied while his neighbour goes hungry.”
“Some people burst into tears at the doorstep when we arrive with food because they haven’t eaten in days,” he continued. “My greatest wish for 2018 is that no one in the United Kingdom goes hungry.”
According to HuffPost, the Bearded Broz provide food parcels that are entirely non-perishable, and include tinned beans, pasta, tins of tuna, long life milk, biscuits, rice pudding, sugar, tea and more.
They now have a head office and an employee — a 29-year-old called Jodie who was homeless when the Bearded Broz first helped her. Within 24 hours of contacting them, Hameed had delivered a food parcel to the hostel she was living in with her partner. She began to volunteer with them, but now manages other volunteers full-time.
“Years ago I wouldn’t have ever thought about doing this kind of work, but then I ended up on the streets myself,” Jodie said to HuffPost. “The amount of people that helped me out back then... it’s important to give a bit back to the community.”
Global Citizen has previously reported that The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, recorded a 30% increase in food bank use in areas where universal credit was prevalent. However, in areas not covered, the increase is 12%.
Over 1.1 million food packages were given to people using food banks last year — of which 436,938 went to children.
However the Bearded Broz are about much more than just food banks. Previously they’ve helped communities deal with a five-week bin strike by borrowing a lorry with a dozen volunteers and clearing the rubbish themselves. As the strike continued, they pledged to prioritise elderly and vulnerable people’s refuse.
"If your neighbour goes to bed hungry, you're not even a Muslim" - out and about with the 'Bearded Broz', cleaning up Birmingham's streets and helping their local community.#EverydayHeroespic.twitter.com/7CdWrYk09h— BBC Stories (@bbcstories) December 7, 2017
Everybody is welcome to get involved — and the Broz are quick to point out on their website that there’s one criteria in particular you will never need to hit.
“You don't need a beard,” it reads. “Lol”.
You can contact the Broz for help on 07767 164246. Follow this link to donate or volunteer your time.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No. 2 to fight world hunger. Take action with us here.