West Hampstead office workers pledge to give away their lunch for Mitzvah Day

Dozens of busy office workers have pledged to donate their lunch to a homeless shelter for this year’s Mitzvah Day.

Last year 30 offices took part in the Give Away Your Lunch campaign – donating food and drink and giving up their lunch breaks to spend time with people in shelters.

This year two West Hampstead businesses, solicitors Manuel Swaden and JHub, an organisation that promotes innovation and creativity in the Jewish community and beyond, have already signed up to take part.

With the launch of Give Away Your Lunch this week, the Ham&High is encouraging offices to give up a small portion of their day for a good cause on Friday, November 16 – the last working day before Mitzvah Day on Sunday, November 18.

Last year, David Brown, social co-ordinator for JHub, in West End Lane, and his office donated dried food and tinned goods to a shelter run by Cricklewood Homeless Concern and they will take part again this year.

Mr Brown said: “The Give Away Your Lunch campaign was a good way to bring people together.

“Making it part of the working day made it much more simple and accessible.

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“The organisers of the centre came to speak to us and it was gratifying to hear that whilst they deal with immediate needs such as food and beds, they also have a whole range of services and access to support.

“It’s not just about giving people a sandwich, it’s looking at some of the long-term projects.”

Also on board is Jeremy Manuel of Manuel Swaden, in West End Lane.

The real estate lawyer explained that the unique lunch break timing of the campaign meant that all of his colleagues could get involved.

“Mitzvah Day is an opportunity to have the experience of giving back to the community as an office,” he said.

“It’s a small act by everyone here, coming together to think about how we can make a big difference.”

Last year, Mr Manuel and his team brought canned food, crisps and other snacks to a homeless shelter in Kilburn, which has since closed down.

For this year’s Mitzvah Day, the solicitor will be visiting a shelter in Ashford Road, Cricklewood, also run by Cricklewood Homeless Concern – and the whole office will be involved again.

“We’re all guilty of saying we want to volunteer but then putting it off for tomorrow,” explained Mr Manuel.

“But Give Away Your Lunch encourages people to take action on a specific day – it also makes people realise that they can volunteer, so it’s a catalyst for doing more.”

He added: “We live in what is known to be a relatively affluent area but there are sections of our community who don’t have the same opportunities or the homes and comforts that a lot of us enjoy.

“We need to remember that there are people where we live who are having all sorts of housing problems and other issues.”

To get involved with Give Away Your Lunch, email hannah@mitzvahday.org or call 020 7443 5132.

Mitzvah Day can match your office up with a homeless shelter to visit, or you can choose your own.