A Difficult And Challenging Evening On More Than One Level

We welcomed 46 people in this Thursday evening. We had jacket potatoes with tuna or chilli. The food went down very well. We were short in the kitchen until 6.10pm so Sandra came in for an hour and a half to help Laura and Victoria. I am constantly humbled how all the volunteers muck in to help me and support each other. Lots of hot dogs were consumed, we had to buy extra onions!!

A difficult and Challenging Evening.

One of our regular gentlemen came in and had been drinking all day. He is off his medications and very very agitated. It was obvious that he would lose his temper in the hall with the noise and heat which was making him very unhappy. He was very disoriented. Our first aid volunteer and Sue our Community Police Officer took him outside and sat around the corner with him most of the session. He is schizophrenic and there was a concern he would change behaviour in a millisecond. He eventually ate some food and drank a coffee. He was talking, rambling and hearing voices. His medication does not last him as he is erratic with the way he takes them. His behaviour has deteriorated hugely since he has been street homeless. The sadness and confusion in this mans eyes is heartbreaking.

I spent most of the evening with another client. This person is in arrears with their rent and has received a warning letter. At this stage is not an eviction notice but it will come soon. In the meantime our wonderful SEAP volunteer will help with the relevant forms needed to help her. If this client engages with us properly we can help. When necessary we have a solicitor that also may help. This person is paying bedroom tax which is a constant struggle. It would be a good idea to apply to swap for a smaller place. Often people with mental health and addictions have problems coping with day to day issues and everything gets on top of them. It is easy then to bury their head in the sand. The issue just gets bigger, often people do not have family support.

Tonight was an evening of so many difficult situations and fragile conversations that I cannot possibly communicate them all. I sometimes wonder how we cope, what we have achieved and what we have let ourselves in for. I feel often out of my depth but in such a broken society we just do what we can to make people’s lives feel better.

One of the clients that we have helped in the past came in, seemed ok, I’m always a little on edge when this person is about. This person is very friendly and loves the Soup Kitchen but often without warning can get angry. People with drug and alcohol addictions or past addictions live in a very chaotic lifestyle. Their best friends usually share the same habits. This client has had a couple of relapses as the temptation is always there. It is a concern as there is always a risk that they will will lose their home if her antisocial behaviour starts again. We have suggested that this person re-engages with Swanswell straight away.

Camp Visit

Sue our volunteer who is a Community Police Officer too, went down to the camp this evening with Emma, our first aid volunteer. It is important always for Safeguarding that are volunteers are safe and never go alone. Emma said she is shocked now how huge the camp has become. The camp is now in two separate groups. Fairy and solar lights included. It is lovely that even in difficult circumstances people will try and make the best of a bad situation. The street homeless have become a community, mainly they look out for each other. One of our longer standing homeless men has requested a 55L rolling water barrel so they can get fresh water for the camp for everyone, especially in this hot weather. They are really struggling. We have put the water barrel on our Amazon Wish List. Thank you.

Many homeless people start out with jobs and stable residences, but then social and economic factors intervene, causing a rapid change in their living situation. The two biggest factors driving homelessness are poverty and the lack of affordable housing.

Pet Cats

In previous blogs we talked about two people who have cats who have needed support. Two Saints have kindly agreed to take cats so long as they are room cats and a contract between the client and the Two Saints management is agreed and signed. The contract will have to strictly adhered to. One person is now sorted and a second hopefully has hope to get back in to one of the council accommodation properties with their cat too. It is important that a homeless person must register with the council first. All going well they will be offered Wayfaring before procedures are put in place for accommodation if appropriate.

Hairdresser Says Googbye

Kären came in to say goodbye to us all. She has been cutting everyone’s hair for the last year. I know she will be missed massively. I think the ladies will especially as Kären always makes their hair look so pretty in different plaits. She has been kind and caring at all times, she has listened, made the effort to get to know everyone and make them feel valued and a part of society. This is very important to all of us at the Soup Kitchen.

Rough Sleepers On The Increase?

I have been to a very interesting meeting this week Rough Sleepers Task and Targeting Group. Every month we go through the known rough sleepers and flag issues and grade them in “risk” they are marked as red, amber, green on different aspects. Health, behaviour, addictions etc. Actions are hopefully put in place. We have established now approximately 33 street homeless but new people come in each week. There are more we know, a big increase from last year. All the statutory and voluntary sectors are working together gathering our knowledge in order to help the street homeless in Newbury, Thatcham and West Berkshire

In Closing

Thank you all, a difficult night. Mai-Britt, thank you for coming in even though you felt so unwell our strength of team is wonderful. We all pull together, that’s the important thing.