The Cuff Road Project

TWC2’s free meals programme is called The Cuff Road Project. Begun in March 2008, it is the largest of TWC2’s direct services. (Other programmes are described in the section Care Fund Programmes.)

Based in Little India, The Cuff Road Project offers a free breakfast and an ample dinner every weekday. On Saturday, the meal provided is lunch. Our eligibility criteria are straightforward: clients should be documented migrant workers who are out of a job.

Wellwishers Aisha and Nasreen (not in picture) contribute Diwali sweets to add to workers’ meals

Why is there a need? Migrant workers who are in dispute with their employers, or are injured, have no family here to fall back on. Although the law requires employers to provide “upkeep and maintenance”, which in practice may be understood to mean accommodation and food, the reality is that when the relationship has turned acrimonious, employers may not fulfill their obligations willingly. Workers report facing enormous pressure to leave their dormitories. They also fear that continuing to stay in company housing exposes them to the risk of forcible repatriation before they’ve received their due salaries or injury compensation. Many workers thus leave or are forced out of dormitories.

They may have to borrow from friends to pay the monthly rent for a bunk. This leaves them with no margin to pay for adequate food. Especially when they are already injured, poor nutrition may retard their recovery.

TWC2’s Cuff Road Project thus makes an important difference.

On average, we serve 400 – 500  workers a day.

TWC2’s volunteers are stationed at the food point so that workers have someone to talk to and consult. We give advice on what rights and options they may have, and how they can pursue their cases. Our volunteers also monitor their progress.

The statistics that we compile from the cases we see at the Cuff Road Food Programme give us an overall picture of the kinds of difficulties and the scale of exploitation and abuse workers suffer. This knowledge informs our advocacy work.