The Peepul Centre social enterprise based in Belgrave, Leicester, has been forced to close most of its facilities due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation locally, prompting uncertainties over its financial future.
However, the centre is continuing to provide 5000 meals a week to vulnerable households during the lockdown period, provided by its 40 volunteers.
The idea of providing a free meals service initially came from Leaders Council member Anil Bhanot, the chairman of the centre who day-to-day runs his own accountancy practice, Bhanot and Co, in Ealing, London.
Discussing the Peepul Centre’s situation with LeicestershireLive, business development manager, Nash Chhatralia said: "We have had so many cancellations and everything has been closed.
“We don't know what's going to happen but we're so glad we can give back to our community."
The centre initially funded the free meal service which has been running since the beginning of lockdown in March and has continued through the local lockdown in the Leicester area.
While its income has been hampered by the lockdown, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] provided the centre with a grant to continue operating the free meal service, which had provided 25,000 meals as of late July.
Each week, the meals are prepared and packaged by Peepul Centre volunteers, with 4500 of them going to vulnerable families and the remaining 500 distributed to key workers.
As a community hub, the centre has a number of facilities including a gym, restaurant, wedding and corporate events spaces and a nursery. All of its services other than the nursery, which has been open to select numbers of children during lockdown, have been forced to close.
The closured and the prolonged Leicester lockdown has left the Peepul Centre facing an uncertain future, with a key government announcement on the local situation due on Tuesday.
However, the social enterprise is determined to continue helping the most vulnerable people in the community in the meantime.
Chhatralia said: "We're just taking it day-by-day at the moment because of the Leicester lockdown. We don't know what will happen, but we know we have ample space to comply with social distancing."