AN Oldham restaurant has become the first eatery in the UK to pledge to be homeless-friendly as it opens its doors to rough sleepers for a balanced wholesome meal.

Cafe Lahore, on Union Street, Oldham, will provide a meal for homeless people after its lunchtime buffet using fresh foods that otherwise would have been left to waste.

Owner Wasim Aslam said he has long been aware of town centre homelessness, but has noticed a particular rise in rough sleepers in the past 18 months.

He said: “We’ve always had the odd knock on the door from a homeless person and have been happy to help them.

“I don’t like to see homeless people in the state they are in sometimes.

"If we have extra food, then why shouldn’t we share it with them? It is a practical gesture of goodwill and I have always believed our work is about seeing people with smiles on their faces.”

With recent statistics showing that British households throw away around £13 billion pounds worth of perfectly edible food each year, Cafe Lahore's practical and compassionate approach to the homeless has won praise from local volunteer force The Oldham Street Angels plus the creator of the Homeless-Friendly programme, Dr Zahid Chauhan.

“What makes Café Lahore’s commitment to the homeless so precious is that this is a thing they are doing everyday” said Dr Chauhan.

“Other eateries have organised acts of random kindness such as serving Christmas dinners to rough sleepers but Wasim and his team are offering a place to get a nutritious meal where the homeless can also learn about other organisations who can help them. I am convinced their shining example will be followed by others in the food industry.”

Backed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and begun in NHS surgeries, Homeless-Friendly encourages public, charitable and private sector organisations to examine their culture and services and make sure that they cater for those without a permanent address.

Given that rough sleepers often have dietary and heart problems caused by poor nutrition, Dr Chauhan is delighted to have his first food outlet on board.

Serving Punjabi and Kashmiri cuisine, Café Lahore has been based on Union Street in Oldham for over 15 years. Following their daily buffet at 2pm they will be granting entry to homeless people with food vouchers and ensuring they get a good warm meal and drink.

Learn more about Homeless-Friendly by visiting: