A leading surgeon who has been tackling the Covid pandemic is now heading a team of volunteers to open a community café in Willesden Green serving free meals for anyone struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Dr Raja Amjid Riaz, professor consultant who chairs Brent Central Mosque, already runs a twice-weekly free fruit and veg market and now plans a café open to all without having to be referred.

“The cost-of-living crisis is making a major impact to the community,” he says. “Even those who are working are struggling to make ends meet.”

His mosque has been “inundated with requests” from people of all religious backgrounds to help tackle the crisis, he points out.

“We all feel that we should offer those in need some help with the looming crisis,” Dr Riaz adds.

“We looked at the current foodbanks and felt that they were not appropriate as they required referrals and vouchers or someone having to endorse you.

“This was not right for us. We want to help everyone, all households which are struggling but don’t tick all the boxes.”

The move follows the free fruit and veg market the mosque has been running every Monday morning and Friday afternoon since June “for everyone to have some free extra sustenance”.

Now a joint operation is planned with the London Community Kitchen in Harrow to run the community café at Willesden Green from mid-October, serving up free hot meals and hot drinks during the winter months.

“This is another addition to provide against the cost of living crisis,” Dr Riaz points out. “The community needs this extra support, with co-operation from the London Community Kitchen.”

Volunteers from all religious backgrounds and none are joining in to extend the relief work which is currently helping 300 households.

The house of worship has become a community focal point in Brent, an area said to be among the 10 worst in the country for poverty, employment, educational attainment — and death from Covid 19. The culturally-diverse borough with 100 different languages being spoken the mosque says has become a magnet for asylum seekers and immigrants.