To respect this person's privacy, we have been asked not to use his real name or personal photograph.
When I first heard about the Newbury Soup Kitchen, I was in two minds as to whether to go or not. I thought it would be just a bunch of homeless people queuing up for soup and bread, then sitting around getting warmed up, to be on their way when it closes. I didn't really fancy any soup that evening and almost decided not to bother. Then I thought, well maybe I'll go along for a cup of tea. After all there was nowhere to go on a Thursday for food and drink so I gave it a try.
As I went through the door I was greeted by some friendly smiling volunteers who welcomed me in, introducing themselves and explaining what was on offer. Not just soup, tea or coffee but Pot Noodles, beans on toast, toasted sandwiches, sausage rolls, pies and fresh sandwiches. And they had tents, sleeping bags and some warm clothing for those that needed them. "Wow!" I thought "This is great!" So I helped myself to a cup of tea and a sandwich and sat down to enjoy my hot cuppa. I soon found myself in conversation with a few of the lovely ladies and had a great laugh.
One of those lovely ladies was Meryl, she founded the Soup Kitchen and explained to me her intentions. Meryl and her team of volunteers were there to chat and give guidance and advice where it was needed. After talking to me they learned that I liked fishing and doing the odd crossword.
After a couple of visits to the soup kitchen I was presented with some fishing tackle and a rod and reel, I was overwhelmed by this very kind gesture and looked forward to a spot of fishing the next day. All of a sudden I had something to look forward to and now every time I visit the soup kitchen they bring in a newspaper and sometimes a crossword book for me to enjoy. They really do make me feel at home and with all the friendly chat and laughter I get on a Thursday night. It makes me forget that I am homeless. I really look forward to my visits to the Soup Kitchen.
Over the months I have witnessed the volunteers helping out those in need and making them feel happier and more confident. A few of the homeless have since found jobs and a place to live thanks to Newbury Soup Kitchen. After I explained that I wanted to get back into my profession on a freelance basis, a relative of one of their volunteers presented me with laptop which I use on a daily basis. I am now working on a website for my new venture and doing a few little jobs in graphic design. One job was that Meryl gave me an opportunity to redesign the Soup Kitchen logo so I jumped at the chance. I was over the moon when she approved my design and vowed to do any future graphic work for the Soup Kitchen.
I really love my work and am very proud to have contributed to this very worthy cause. I have the greatest respect for Meryl and her team for their hard work and commitment to keeping the soup kitchen going (and growing stronger). Whilst at the moment I remain homeless I now have something to go for. Meryl has given me the opportunity to make something of myself.
7th November 2017