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Restaurant owner turns waiter at Salvation Army dinner for the homeless

Raj Rana, Manjit Rana, Sanjay Anand MBE, Major Samuel Edgar, Shabana Mahmood MP, Cllr John Lines_

Raj Rana, Manjit Rana, Sanjay Anand MBE, Major Samuel Edgar, Shabana Mahmood MP, Cllr John Lines_

Restaurant owner turns waiter at Salvation Army dinner for the homeless

The owner of an upmarket Birmingham restaurant turned his hand to waiting on guests, at a special dinner for residents of The Salvation Army’s William Booth Centre.

Itihaas on Fleet Street celebrated its ten year anniversary on Sunday by inviting 25 of the city’s most vulnerable people to dine on a menu of authentic Indian cuisine, carefully prepared by the restaurant’s chefs, and overseen by the owner’s mother.

In an unusual and heartwarming twist, the guests were served not by waiters, but by the restaurant owner himself, Raj Rana, members of his family, his mentor Sanjay Anand MBE, and Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood.

Former Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor John Lines, was also in attendance at the event. Mr Rana explained the reasons behind the gesture: “The Salvation Army does fantastic work and we really wanted to help with their efforts to rehabilitate people who are homeless. People who are homeless are all too often ignored or even turned away in our society; we wanted to welcome them to Itihaas and make them feel special. Inclusion is hugely important in breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

Birmingham’s William Booth Centre on Shadwell Street provides a range of vital services for people who have fallen on hard times and find themselves living on the street.

As well as providing a place to stay, The Salvation Army centre places importance on helping people get back on their feet. Activities and workshops aim to develop skills and build confidence, with the eventual goal of facilitating self-reliance and access to job opportunities.

Garry Murphy, service manager at the William Booth Centre, said: “There is no’ type’ of person who could become homeless. We see people from all walks of life whose lives have taken a turn for the worse. Many different factors are involved. Increasingly debt, joblessness and economic hardship can be seen as contributing to people ending up on the street. You could say that for many people they’re just one pay cheque away from homelessness.”

He continued: “The dinner at Itihaas has been fantastic for our residents. Everyone at the restaurant did a great job in making them feel welcome and at home. Positive steps like this show that, no matter what they’ve been through, the future can be bright.”

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