Chandigarh Sep 23,2023: In the bustling heart of Southall, a remarkable story unfolds every Tuesday at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha on Park Avenue. For the past 15 years, the UNITED SIKHS Helpdesk has been a sanctuary for thousands, offering assistance to those navigating the complex maze of UK immigration and more.
Sukhwinder Singh’s story is just one of many. At 65, Singh had spent nearly three decades in London, living as an undocumented migrant. With no formal documents and failing health, his dream was to return to his family in India. It was the UNITED SIKHS Helpdesk that transformed this dream into reality, facilitating his return.
The helpdesk’s journey began in 2008, initially assisting students from India and Pakistan who arrived in the UK. “The main purpose of the Helpdesk at the time was to help out these students who were struggling with basic things like their CV,” recalls Miss Narpinder Mann, Senior Community Projects Advocate at UNITED SIKHS.
However, as word spread, the Helpdesk’s role evolved. It became a refuge for the homeless and undocumented migrants from India and Pakistan, many of whom were apprehensive about contacting the Home Office. “We put them in touch with the Indian or Pakistan High Commission and the Home Office, proactively making arrangements for their voluntary departure,” shares Miss Mann.
The Helpdesk’s commitment to its cause is evident in its impressive track record. In 2009, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the UK Government, ensuring that every individual seeking assistance from the Helpdesk would be treated with dignity.
Over its 15-year tenure, the Helpdesk has assisted over 5,000 individuals. But its services extend beyond immigration. From victims of domestic abuse to the elderly seeking medical or pension information, the Helpdesk caters to a diverse range of needs. “The doors are forever open, and we try to help out every person that approaches us in whatever way we can,” explains Miss Mann.
In 2015, Miss Narpinder Mann was honored with the British Empire Medal for her exemplary voluntary services to the Sikh and broader South Asian community through the UNITED SIKHS helpdesk.
In a world rife with challenges for immigrants, services like the UNITED SIKHS Helpdesk stand as a testament to the power of community, compassion, and unwavering commitment.