Alcoholism & First Aid Volunteer Appeal

This week we had 43 people through the door, full of new faces and lovely to see many people who have not been in for a while. People who have moved from homelessness into accommodation who still enjoy coming in for the social side of the Soup kitchen at the same time as eating a meal. The evening was full of laughter and banter. There were no concerning incidents or upsetting conversations, which can be the case. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the evening.

Our hairdresser came in and did 13 haircuts!  Kate was brilliant – she is extremely dedicated to the Soup Kitchen and comes in most weeks. We are limited with space and the room is very small, but we make do and get around most situations and adapt as much as we can to provide outreach and services that will help the clients who come in to see us. 
We have a podiatrist too who comes in once a month, which is proving to be a service that is attracting new clients every time she attends. As the weather gets hotter rough sleepers tend to suffer from Athletes Foot and nail issues, which Sue can treat over time to hopefully sort out. This will make people feel far more comfortable. 

The HOLT nurses were in today at 4pm, two people came in to see them. The numbers are still small but the word is getting around. If the nurses can engage with clients who are less likely to go to a doctor it may help them receive medical care that potentially could be missed.  

Funding for the HOLT (Health Outreach Liaison Team) will continue as long as it is proved to be needed and used. Along with the Outreach Dental Team these services are invaluable, we can see how much they are required especially when we talk to our clients. It takes a lot of patience and support in order to encourage people to engage who are naturally untrusting and live chaotic lives.  

Many of our clients live with an alcohol addiction. Over a period of time this takes a horrific toll on the body. One client asked for pain relief (paracetamol) because his legs are so painful. We cannot and will not give out any medication. We suggested he speak to our first aider and suggested he spoke to the HOLT nursing team and to come to one of their sessions but he was not interested in engaging with any medical care or support. Now we know his situation we can hopefully support him to take advantage of the outreach nurses to access much needed medical care. 

Alcohol related liver disease refers to liver damage caused by excess alcohol intake. The human body retains more fluid (water) after drinking. If the body does not manage this fluid it can be a cause for concern and evidence that there is damage to the liver. The Liver filters toxins from the blood, aids digestion of food, regulates blood sugar and helps fight infection and disease. 
The liver is very resilient and regenerates cells but filtering alcohol affects this regeneration. Over time this will result in permanent damage to the liver known as Alcohol Related liver disease. 

This swelling can become very painful and continued drinking will not alleviate the symptoms. The way to reduce the symptoms of Alcohol Related Liver Disease is to stop drinking but this has to be done with professional help and careful monitoring. Alcohol is one of only a couple of drugs that can cause death through DT’s (Delirium Tremens) if stopped immediately this is the last stage of alcohol withdrawal which occurs in 5-10% of alcohol dependant individuals. Up to one third of people experiencing significant alcohol withdrawal may experience alcohol withdrawal seizures. If left untreated the mortality rate can be up to 15%. There are many other symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption such as strokes, heart disease, liver, bowel and mouth cancer to name a few. The HOLT nurses hopefully for some will be the first steps for a person to engage to access treatment. 

We are still looking for a First Aid volunteer to help support the team. We try to have two first aiders on every shift as we have many clients in at a time and situations often arrive that need support. Medical experience and experience in minor injury assessment, bleeding and burns, bandage and dressing application is required.  Also please experience in drug and alcohol dependency and mental health awareness is preferred. Please contact us on the email below or through our website. 
Volunteering is a wonderful thing. We get so much out of the time we spend with our clients. It is a selfish task rather than a selfless one. We have met some of the most wonderful people, we laugh, listen, find comfort and give comfort.  One of our volunteers had a hip replacement a week and a half ago. She came in to visit as she missed volunteering at Soup Kitchen so much. A client got her a chair, another made her a coffee and when she left another helped her carefully to the car. Perceptions of homeless people are not always positive. Volunteer with us…you will see the huge positive.