Very busy evening (37 in total) especially when you consider that some of our regulars did not come in now they are in housing. Some still do and they enjoy the social side and the continued support we give. A few new faces and some we have not seen for a while.
LACK OF MEDICAL CARE
Tonight was full of a lot of complex problems. We feel incredibly frustrated and useless sometimes. Some of these issues are so complicated we cannot solve or do not always know which way to turn. Most issues are due to money, whether it is benefits issues or lack of medical care from sanctioning and the inability to access dentists, doctors etc as they have no money to pay for prescriptions or dental treatment. It worries us that continued lack of access to medical care could put lives at risk or at least some people live with terrible tooth pain. For instance, Keith has a raging toothache and chest issues, yesterday we did cover the cost for two inhaler prescriptions as he had nothing and no funds to pay for it. Emma, our lovely first aider does such an amazing job will fill out all the relevant forms to get him free dental help. However, as it is not yet infected the appointment will probably take two weeks. He can only go to minor injuries at the hospital if it gets much worse. If he was not sanctioned he could go to the dentist. One of our other clients previously pulled out his own tooth as the pain was so bad and he could not access quick free dental care.
Someone who is NFA (No fixed abode) will not receive mail or have Internet so they are sanctioned and lose any money they may have. This makes their situation way worse especially access to medical care that we all take for granted this is compounded by no ID which has often been lost or stolen. With no money, they cannot replace their ID so they drop out of society further.
Homelessness continues, we had two new people in this evening and again a sweet man who came in last week. James is looking after him. He is very grubby. I gave him a washing token last week and sleeping bag etc he hasn’t yet been to the launderette. This week he requested a tent so I think that means he is intending to stay in the area.
A young lad from Hull who turned up early, actually before we opened was very hungry and nervous. He did not want to sit and eat with anyone. He has been sleeping in doorways apparently. I gave him a tent etc too. He does not know the area and was unsure of a safe place to sleep. Hopefully one of the homeless who has just been housed can advise him.
ROUGH SLEEPING FINE
One of our rough sleepers came in again this evening. He obviously has decided the Soup Kitchen is not as bad as he thought. He had found out that the new Government initiative to get rid of rough sleeping by fining them £100 etc and moving them on. He is very worried what that means for him. We will find out what we can for him.
One of our regulars came in very happy this evening. They have been clean from heroin one year and four months and a few days. Obviously very proud and I’m glad has done so well. It is difficult when constantly surrounded by people who try to tempt them back. A different person from the one who turned up to us on our second session last year facing eviction and self-harming when we were so new to the experiences of addiction and desperation. Wow, we have all come a long way.
BURGERS AND GAMES
We had “Wagu” burgers this evening. They went down very well. Simon was very interested to hear that the cow is massaged to make the beef tender. It cheered up his evening no end! He is a proper traveller, he goes off for a while then comes back. He said he’s going on his holidays (walkabout) for a week then coming back for Ian Campbell’s memorial service.
Lorna brought more games in this evening. We now have a big box upstairs of things to play. It’s great to break the ice, calm people down and encourage conversation. She sat down with our Italian man who speaks virtually no English and played noughts and crosses with him and drew pictures to help him they had fun. He is a quiet not always easy man but Lorna was patient and kind. I think they both had fun.
LAPTOPS, BIKES AND LAUNDRY
Last week I put an appeal on Facebook for help with repairing a laptop for the man who does all our graphics who until recently has been homeless two and a half years. We had over 16,000 views! Through that, a lovely man called Brian came forward who fixed the laptop in a day. He put a new screen on for him. Through the appeal, I have had a couple more laptops through so hopefully we can get them fixed and hand them on to someone else who will benefit. We will continually need more as people get back to work and off the streets.
I think I have someone who will look over bikes for us for free and fix them at cost they are called TR Cycle repairs. Penny Post in Hungerford is an online paper they are going to raise funds hopefully to pay for parts.
The Laundry basket in Newbury are so kind, they offer us Laundry tokens that we can give out, up to two a week for a full wash and dry for a homeless or vulnerable person. It makes such a difference to a someone’s self-esteem if they are cleaner.
Julia from SEAP which is a support and Advocacy service sat all evening and coped with so many difficult cases. It is wonderful to have her experience and expertise each week. Problems again are money, rent, housing and lack of ID so someone can get basic requirements such as a bank account so they can start to apply for benefits or work. Some people through HMRC and other organisations just do not exist.
So many people do amazing things behind the scenes of the Soup kitchen to allow us to do our job better and better each week. For example, a wonderful retired man, each month buys us something from our wish list if he has a small win from his premium bonds be it coffee, spoons, cups or plates. We are constantly overwhelmed by people’s generosity and support towards our Soup Kitchen. Thank you, Newbury and West Berkshire, for believing in us.