Curry, pasta, chips and cheese – the menu varies, but the crowd waiting for them does not. As many as 70 people line Cadogan Street in Glasgow waiting for a hot meal.
The table empties within minutes and, as the diners leave, Paman Singh, a suited employment lawyer, grabs a bin bag and clears any rubbish from the pavement.
Both men are founder members of Seva Scotland, a Sikh-run soup kitchen which cooks up fresh food at the Central Gurdwara for distribution to those in need.
Most core members – bankers, mechanics, pharmacists, restaurant workers, cleaners – are in their 20s and 30s, while some occasional volunteers are in their teens.
The group began three years ago after Rajpal, 36, sent a group email to friends and family. Since then, the student adviser says, things have “snowballed”.
He said: “We do 60-70 free hot meals and goody bags with crisps and cans of juice every Monday and Tuesday night, and we also take food to a homeless shelter and a church. We probably distribute food for 200 people every week.”
He went on: “Since we’ve been doing this, I eat my own food much better. You are not in it for anything but you can sleep that bit better knowing you are doing your wee bit as much as you can.”
Seva Scotland runs in accordance with Sikh principles, dishing up vegetarian food with volunteers giving a minimum of ten per cent of their time and income to charity.
As such, it is entirely self-funded, with members “putting in a couple of hundred here or there” when reserves run low.
However, religion is off the table when the food goes out, with no sermonising to service users, who include sex workers, homeless people, asylum seekers and people with mental health and addiction problems. Most, according to the team, are not homeless, but simply do not have enough money for food and bills. Pawan, 30, said: “There is no difference between the service users and ourselves, except some personal circumstances. What is to say if there were difference choices made in my life and in their lives, our places wouldn’t be swapped?
“It’s part of being a Sikh and part of being a human being – if you are in a more fortunate position, the natural inclination is to help someone.”
A recent report showed overall homelessness applications to Scottish councils fell to 34,660 last year, but the charity Crisis warned demand for its night shelters had soared by 94 per cent in Glasgow over the winter, and said many people may be “falling off the radar”.
Meanwhile, Glasgow City Mission reported demand for its night shelter had doubled, with 3,000 visits over the three months to April, compared to 1,500 in the same period in 2015.
On Monday, regular service user George went along to Cadogan Street with friends for a feed after learning of Seva Scotland through Glasgow City Mission.
He said: “I appreciate what they are doing for the folk here. They’re good to you.”