Young Citizen: Barkingside teen helping feed homeless and teaching children to read

PUBLISHED: 15:30 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16 26 September 2018

Barkingside resident Jeskiran Kaur Rai helps feed the homeless at least two times a month.

Barkingside resident Jeskiran Kaur Rai helps feed the homeless at least two times a month.


A 15-year-old who volunteers to help feed Ilford’s rough sleepers and help primary school pupils learn to read is this week’s Young Citizen nominee.

Jeskiran Kaur Rai, 15, distributing food with SEVA. Photo: SEVAJeskiran Kaur Rai, 15, distributing food with SEVA. Photo: SEVA

Jeskiran Kaur Rai, who goes to Isaac Newton Academy, in Cricklefield Place, has been volunteering for the past two years with community group the Sikh Empowerment Voluntary Association (Seva) which distributes food to rough sleepers in Ilford town centre every week.

“I enjoy being able to help the less fortunate and being able to see that you are making a change,” she said.

“As a Sikh one of the first lessons we are taught is to share what you have.

“Every day our prayers end by saying sarbat da bhalla, which means to wish all of humanity well, messages we can all agree with and try to live.”

Jeskiran usually helps by making tea, laying tables, transporting ingredients and helping to serve food.

She added: “I’m really inspired by the older volunteers at Seva who give their time every week to help those less fortunate.”

Jeskiran, who lives in Barkingside is also a reading mentor at her school, dedicating some of her lunch times to helping primary school pupils improve their literacy.

Speaking of her future ambitions, Jeskiran said: “I would like to continue doing community work whatever I do and whatever I can.”

She was nominated by fellow Seva member Jagdeep Singh Sohal, who said: “She has made an outstanding contribution towards helping Seva feed the homeless every Tuesday in Ilford.

“Jeskiran has shown great dedication taking time out from her studies to help Seva help those that need it the most.”

The Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club Young Citizen Award is about celebrating the amazing young people in our borough.

It is run by the Recorder in conjunction with Redbridge Rotary Club, and sponsored by The Exchange shopping centre, Ilford, which provides each monthly winner with a £30 gift card.

The Young Citizen of the Year will be crowned at the Mayor’s Community Awards in March.

You can nominate any person from Redbridge, as long as they are under-25, by emailing

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