This weeks session went very quickly I thought. It was so busy I did not get chance to talk to many of the volunteers.
We welcomed 42 people tonight. By 7.00pm many clients had come and gone. The food went down very well, Bobotie with rice and a last minute apple crumble and custard as we were donated many apples by Tesco on Wednesday evening. Supermarket donations were down this week, but still there was no shortage of food for sure.
Too Much Take Away
It was noticed that a couple of our drug users took an awful lot of sandwiches, pot noodles and cakes away this evening. They even had a brief case to put stuff in. We need to watch that. There is always plenty of food but it has to be monitored. We have been informed that can be sold so we have to be mindful.
The local dairy had delivered some 350 bottles of squash to us this week. We kept some ourselves, but donated the remainder to Foodbank, Mencap and a couple of local primary schools. We will have more for next week. They have a sell by date for the end if June. It is good to see other charities and organisations benefiting from in date food that would be otherwise thrown away.
I spent most of the evening talking to one of our regular clients who was on good form. We have sorted out a new cooker for delivery tomorrow and a electrician to install it through the Community Furniture project. Kelvin at the charity is brilliant. He is so accommodating, we may need to sort out a fridge for potentially too. A lovely man who is not a regular volunteer popped in to help work as a go between and to help the delivery run smoothly. Working with vulnerable people we try to accommodate every eventuality as possible. We thought this client would feel happier having a friend there when two strangers come into the flat to bring in the cooker. He is a great guy, he looks out for quite a few of the vulnerable clients we deal with. He cannot come in that often as he lives in Hungerford and cycles in. There are a couple of people who quietly work with the homeless and vulnerable locally, they do not volunteer directly but liaise with the voluntary sectors to ensure they can support when necessary.
Sadly tonight, one of our clients I have known the longest told me that they are no longer living in their accommodation. Possibly in arrears with rent due to sanctions. Trying to work out the real reason is often difficult. It is sometimes due to the fact that the rent has not been paid or they have not turned up more important meetings, not engaging. Drug and alcohol use is always a huge problem, clients will often spend their money on their addiction rather than pay their rent. We have suggested she goes to the council and job centre to get the ball rolling again. This person is one of two people I met who were homeless when I started volunteering at the Foodbank. It is because of them I started the Soup Kitchen. Whether you like it or not you get to know your clients and genuinely care about them.
Safeguarding And CRISIS
The Safeguarding and CRISIS phone line is very important for us. We are always mindful that the people we work with are very vulnerable and sometimes we have to be a voice for them. Finding the right support and talking to the right people is very important. We have to get consent from our clients to do this but we help where we can. We are hoping that someone from the CRISIS team will be getting in touch or even better coming in to see us. We want to establish what the guidelines and actions needed for the Crisis and safeguarding phone lines and teams. What they offer, what they do and what is appropriate to expect from each.
Daughter’s Help And Support
The client who we have had in the last few weeks came in again, this time with her lovely daughter. What a beautiful spirited loving young lady in her 20’s. She is so desperate to help her mother and is extremely mature and sensible. The three of us sat outside for a long time. She is still very distressed but not so tearful as last week. We talked about Swanswell and the good work they do. We talked about residential help and the Ark in Reading. This person is a dual diagnosis service user (Alcohol/drugs and mental health). It is a chicken or egg scenario, what comes first, counselling or getting clean. One problem cannot be solved without support with the other. The distress and desperation is overwhelming. Seeing someone who has little belief and hope left but at the same time has a daughter who so strongly believes her mother can turn it all around. Slowly the statutory sectors are starting to work together. Collaboratively as for so long mental health and addiction support has been a parallel treatment. This client brought her daughter in to meet us as she feels the Soup Kitchen is a place she feels safe and non judged. She also commented how much she like Matilda our retired GP. Gaining trust is just as important for our clients. Somewhere where they can talk and offload. You see the real person not the user or alcoholic. Great people!
Veterinary Work Too
Our wonderful volunteer and vet came in even though he was not on rota to cut a dogs claws. Sadly as is often the case the client with his dog forgot to turn up. It is nature of the beast that arrangements and appointments are forgotten. It can be difficult for us and the statutory sector at times to get things done to help the clients as they can be erratic and chaotic.
A Nice Cup Of Tea
It was a relatively incident free evening this week. However, when we arrived our tea urn was not working even though at least we had hot water as thankfully it had been fixed. One of our volunteers saved the day by fixing our tea urn. A cup of tea or coffee for our clients is just as important as a non judgemental conversation. It’s almost the end of a very long week. Everyone works so hard, their commitment and dedication along with their compassion and sense of humour never stops to overwhelm me. Thank you