The Newbury Soup Kitchen is open every Thursday evening.

A Hot Evening This Week, Cat Rehoused And New Hairdresser Found

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As it was so hot this evening and people were recovering from the football, we expected it to be relatively quiet. As Marc said to me, he thought it was calm and sedate, that changed somewhat later in the evening!

We welcomed 44 people, all very very hot and glad to get out of the sun. Unfortunately the Salvation Army Hall only has one fan which is not enough in these temperatures. We all struggled with the heat. Some of our clients chose to sit outside and a few were happy to stay indoors and read the paper and discuss the football.

In The Kitchen

Jan, Sandra and Victoria cooked burgers, homemade tomato chutney and potato salad. Jan works tirelessly to find simple recipes and ideas each week to keep the menu varied but it is becoming apparent that simple is definitely the most popular. Unfortunately the clients did not like the tomato chutney. It was tomato sauce, squeeze mustard and mayonnaise all the way.

Regular Clientele Difficulties

It is difficult when you see clients come in week after week and they start to deteriorate in their behaviour. It is true that we get clients who come in for short periods of time, use our services and move on. However we have a group of long term clients who we have been working with since we opened.

One of our gentlemen as been very ill for a long time needing long term medical attention. He has been getting better, now housed and has been working really well. He has been keeping his appointments and working well with statutory services to keep himself on a physical even keel. Sadly his mental state is suddenly deteriorating and he has stopped engaging with his social worker and medical services to some extent. So many people have worked so hard to keep him housed and safe and his behaviours are now risking his housing and his health.

We become invested in our clients lives. We do the best we can and will continue to help him where we can. People who are vulnerable often have low immunity. Therefore when they are sick their health can deteriorate quickly. A sore on a leg for example can ulcerate very quickly. An infection in a hand can get out of hand very quickly. Without constant medical attention people become at risk of septicaemia and other serious illnesses.

Two Guys Reading The Paper And Drinking Coffee

Reduce Blood Test Anxieties

A street homeless gentleman who has been coming in now for a few months is now engaging with Swanswell. He is going to change doctors from a village doctor to one of the surgeries in town. He does not read or write well so I will meet him at the surgery next week to help him fill out his forms to enrol. He needs bloods done and he is worried about it. He is working toward getting his script. He needs to get blood tests for Swanswell. His veins are not in good condition due to previous drug use. Our first aid volunteer Emma will be able to mark a vein with pen ready for him for his next appointment. Veins are clearer in the evenings. She used to be a person that was asked to find veins on patients with similar issues when she was nursing. It will then be easier for the nurse at the surgery to locate it in a marked spot. Hopefully it will reduce his anxiety about a nurse struggling to find a good site to take a blood sample. These are all little things we can do to hopefully reduce anxieties which will make it more likely that he will go to his much needed appointment. He may not read or write well but boy he plays chess! He sits with another street homeless man most weeks which was great to see.

He made a point this evening of coming over to me to thank me for arranging his bike for him. He’s a lovely chap. I hope he continues to work on his recovery.

Bikes Are Becoming A Necessity

The Community Furniture Project have been amazing again this week. They have supplied a bike for two homeless men. Next week a couple of other people are taking their bikes to get them fixed with new tyres and breaks. We are also sorting a bike for one of our street homeless ladies. If we carry on at this rate they will run out! The Community Furniture Project continuously need the donation of bikes. We are also still looking for a road bike for one of our clients so he can cycle quite a long way to work. The volunteers at the project fix and safety check all the bikes before they are donated or sold.

New Hairdresser Found

After our appeal this week we have found a new hairdresser when Kären sadly leaves us next month. During a hair cut this week one of our regular clients said how kind she always is. This week she French plaited someone’s hair and was even cutting hair of someone who was so tired he had fallen asleep. We are looking forward to welcoming our new volunteer hairdresser who is also a part time paramedic. She will be a fabulous asset to the team. She probably knows some of the clients already!

Cat Home Found

Also from our appeal last week we got amazing support for our gentleman with housing his cat. To make things even better, he is now reunite with his cat. Straight away his mental state has improved hugely and we hope now he can start to focus one by one on the other issues he wants to address.

Local Neighbour Complaint Received

We have had a complaint this evening sadly from a local neighbour to the Salvation Army Hall. There was a dispute outside the hall between two women over £20.00. It became heated and very verbal. It is not often we have issues. The volunteers acted quickly to diffuse the situation and to distract. We work very hard to minimise inevitable arguments. After the argument had finished I sat with the remaining lady who was very apologetic about her behaviour. We explained that noise and bad behaviour could have a detrimental affect on the Soup Kitchen. The clients love the Soup Kitchen and respect the volunteers and the hard work we all put into it to make it run as smoothly as possible. It’s all about education and talking about consequences and actions.

In the middle of the argument another client had some bad news, so she was very angry too. Many drug users are very heightened all the time. The slightest incident will set them off regardless of where they are or who they are with. We managed to calm her down too but she had been very loud shouting into her phone whilst crying. It was unfortunate both incidents happened at the same time. We dealt with both incidents as quickly as possible. We did not have to call the police and everyone left happy.

Any organisation that supports vulnerable people can at times disrupt the area around it. We work very hard to keep any disruption to a minimum. After all, where else and what else do we do with the vulnerable people in society? It is a fact of life that vulnerable people are sometimes loud, angry and drunk. We just do our best to help and support them, so hopefully reducing the impact of their behaviour to others around them.

Thank You

This week we have been very touched by the kindness of people outside the Soup Kitchen who have put themselves out to help our clients. So many amazing people doing small things that have such a huge impact on our service users. I would like to say a big thank you to the people who have helped us this week to achieve dreams for our wonderful clients. Thank you.