MPs are sent packing by Mitzvah Day

Politicians construct gift bags for toiletries from old JCs for the homeless


Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers was among Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs and peers who put Brexit disagreements and election campaigning aside for a morning of social action in Westminster in support of Mitzvah Day.

Having been shown how to construct gift bags from old JC editions by Mitzvah Day chair Laura Marks, they filled the bags with toiletries. These were later donated to The Passage, a Catholic charity assisting homeless and other vulnerable people.

The activity chimed with Mitzvah Day’s 2019 theme of Going Greener, with participants being encouraged to “plant, collect, clean and make your project green”.

Ms Villiers said she was “always delighted to support Mitzvah Day and see so many people giving their time to help others less fortunate than themselves and backing wonderful community projects”.

Leeds North West Labour MP Alex Sobel praised Mitzvah Day for responding to the climate crisis. “Seeing this response across different communities, and within the Jewish community, is so important.”

Tory Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green) said: “In a world which can sometimes be divisive, Mitzvah Day really is something that unites people and I’m proud to play a small part in it. I love seeing so many people in my constituency and beyond volunteering. It’s so rewarding for all involved.”

Mike Gapes, the Change UK MP for Ilford South, highlighted the co-operation between faiths and communities and the impact on charities such as The Passage, “which does transformative work with homeless people in Westminster”.

Lord Pickles said the parliamentary project also had a practical benefit: “I have now learnt how to make my present wrapping cheaper.”

Other participants included Tories Rebecca Harris, Sir Peter Bottomley and Paul Masterton, Labour’s Wes Streeting, Ruth Smeeth, Fabian Hamilton, Stephen Timms and Yvonne Fovargue, Liberal Democrat Lord Palmer and Independent Ian Austin.

Organised by the Board of Deputies and the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, the Westminster event served as a taster for Mitzvah Day, which is on November 17.

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