A yoga charity run by a Huddersfield woman is helping poverty-stricken children in India.

The idea for YoGift started during the Covid lockdown with a small group of people – mainly yoga lovers – chatting online. They thought about yoga’s origins in India and how the high levels of poverty there were made much worse by the after effects of the global pandemic.

This led to them setting up YoGift as a charity in the summer of 2022 and its founder and chair of trustees is Diane Groom from Marsh. They encourage yoga teachers and studios across the UK to help them to fundraise.

The charity raises money to help save children from dire poverty in India and most recently has given almost £10,000 to a day centre charity just outside Delhi called Harmony House. It helps more than 1,000 children from a nearby slum and has a waiting list of 1,500 more.

It has classrooms, activity areas, medical clinics, dining areas, computer rooms and vocational training, supporting the youngsters in education, nutrition, healthcare, well-being, planning and placement for employment and careers. A doctor and nurse visits every month to check all the children’s health.

Diane and YoGift volunteer Sandy Sagoo from Morley visited it recently and Diane said: “It’s an incredibly well organised place of calm, light, inspiration and wonder.”

Since its early days in 2009 Harmony House has taken in more than 4,000 children with over 110 going on to higher education, 20 have opened their own businesses and 140 have received scholarships to private schools.

Harmony House also has a special education needs centre where a small number of children receive specialist one-to-one treatment from physiotherapists, speech therapists and sign language teachers.

A sports facility is being built which will be open to the whole community and another development on the site means it will be able to take a further 200 children every day.

Diane said: “The more children they take every day, the more money it costs to provide food, education, medical and dental care along with other services.”

It costs £20 to buy stationery and books for one child for a year. A full day of meals for 500 children costs about £150.

Diane also visited the slum and said: “Living conditions are cramped and basic. In some cases family members sleep outside because there simply isn’t enough room inside.

“Living, eating and sleeping all happens in one tiny space. Washing and toilet facilities are separate and communal with little privacy and water that looked questionable. Yet, despite all this, the people there were so hospitable and lovely.”

Harmony House has recently installed water filters in the slum, giving people access to clean and safe drinking water for the first time.

As its fundraising grows YoGift hopes to help other grassroots organisations dealing with severe poverty in India and visited a slum area in Vrindavon near the city of Agra – famous for the Taj Mahal – which plans to provide teaching, then food.


Diane Groom (second left on the back row) with fundraisers on a Huddersfield to Manchester walk

Diane added: “It’s our way of giving thanks to the country where many spiritual and wellbeing practices that we value so much with Yoga originated. Pairing with established charities in India means we can direct funds quickly and efficiently where they are most needed.

“As YoGift grows our intention is that other children’s centres around India will benefit in the same way. We recognise that we have small beginnings but we have big aims and ambitions to develop and grow our fundraising so we can bring more partners on board and through them support as many children as possible.”

YoGift has a couple of major fundraisers set up for June. On June 1 they will be walking 25 miles from Huddersfield to Manchester following the canal towpath.

On June 29 they will be doing a 100km bike ride from Leeds to York. People are welcome to sign up for one or both of the fundraisers.

Anyone wanting to take part should email Diane at hello@yogift.org

For more information on how to help or donate to YoGift go to https://www.yogift.org/ 

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.


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