• OPA UK

Bahá'ís in Burnham recognised for their social action during lockdown

A couple in Burnham have received a ‘Hero of Burnham’ award for their contribution to the local community during the summer lockdown.

Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield presented the award to the owners of May’s Chocolate House, Mr and Mrs Hayati, at a ceremony in the summer.

During lockdown, the local Bahá'í couple had converted their local business into a foodbank after identifying a need for economic support within their community.

They were inspired by a letter from the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the worldwide Bahá'í community, which stated: “May your minds be ever bent upon the needs of the communities to which you belong, the condition of the societies in which you live, and the welfare of the entire family of humanity, to whom you are all brothers and sisters."

Their decision to support the local community was confirmed when, after making a number of enquiries, they found out that Vicar Reverend Janet Minkkinen and the Burnham Health Promotion Trust had been looking to set up a foodbank in the locality but had been struggling to find a suitable venue.

With the shop now reopened as a chocolate shop and as a discreet foodbank, customers and those needing food parcels are indistinguishable, fostering a compassionate and positive environment for all of Burnham’s local residents.

The couple have committed to recognising and showing their appreciation for key workers and their service during the pandemic. At the very beginning of lockdown, the couple chose to give Easter eggs as presents to key workers in their community. They asked for nominations through the local Facebook group and received over 200 submissions. With members of the public sharing uplifting and inspiring reasons for their nominations, a stronger sense of community and positivity was fostered amongst members of the page, as the owners became more alert to the welfare needs of their community.

In the future, the couple plan to open the café and offer people complimentary drinks, with accompanying help and support from local volunteers who can discuss financial, health and career-based challenges, in line with their vision of creating a materially and spiritually prosperous neighbourhood for all people.

The foodbank is part of the wider Burnham ‘Care and Share’ distribution project, an alliance set up between May’s Chocolate Shop, Burnham Health Promotion Trust, St Peter’s Church and Foodshare Maidenhead. It is open every Tuesday between 2pm and 4pm for those requiring help.

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