The sun was out and many of our regular clients had been sitting the other side of the river in the park from 5.00pm, enjoying the sunshine. Some of the volunteers were outside joining in the conversation and speaking to a new couple that have recently become homeless in the area. The atmosphere was jovial and as we opened the doors, there were ‘whoops’ and ‘cheers’ from everyone, so we knew we were in for a fun filled evening. We were mindful that a few of the clients had been drinking in the sunshine and one of the volunteers commented that it maybe a fun evening, in more ways that one perhaps. In total we welcomed 42 clients though the door this evening, same as last week. Yes it was full on and we had to keep out eye out for any tipsy misdemeanours, but it was a good atmosphere throughout the Kitchen.
Just The One Cornetto
The sunshine brought one of our lovely volunteers in with Cornetto ice creams for the rest of the team. That was a lovely gesture and very appreciated. Our team work so well together. We have a wealth of experience and professionalism spanning over many experiences in medical, mental health, homelessness and business sectors to name but a few. We have a volunteer now who has been homeless himself. He brings so much experience and support to the clients especially the younger ones.
Responsibilities And Consequences
One of our regular chaps came in, he was very apologetic about his behaviour recently. We listened to his reasoning and concerns apologising constantly. It is good to talk these through. People need to learn to take responsibility for their actions. He knows that he will be refused entry if he is drunk worst case scenario banned which we always try to avoid. We try to explain consequences and actions. Some of our clients struggle so much with alcohol addiction but it is usually a mask for other things. It blocks out bad and sad voices, memories and experiences. It is important to look through the addiction to the person within. They are often living a nightmare shackled to their addiction and the feeling of desperation to those shackles. He remembered nothing of his antics last week and the week before. He loves coming to the Soup kitchen and enjoys the company of the volunteers and the people who frequent it.
This Evening’s Menu
Tonight we had jacket potatoes with chilli or tuna, a fresh salad and bulgar wheat and quinoa salads from Tesco Metro. The staff often surprise us with extra items if a delivery is wrong or something is labelled incorrectly. We also got 12 6pt bottles of milk which all went. The support from the Supermarkets locally is invaluable to us.
Depressing And Suicidal Thoughts
Even though we had no incidents as such this evening, there are a few concerns. One of our regular gentlemen was very upset again. He was tearful outside. One of the volunteers had a good chat with him and listened to what he had to say. He mentioned depressing and suicidal thoughts. He is very lonely. Eight Bells, the wonderful local mental health charity helps him and many of our other clients. He has a good relationship now with one of our regular volunteers who plays cards with him. They have the task of learning a new card game each week. It does cheer him up. It encourages conversation, distraction if necessary and a bit of friendship. Many of the clients get to know certain volunteers, they start to trust and open up to people. It is good for them to talk and feel someone is listening. We need to see what we can do to support him. A further chat on benefits, work, hobbies etc may be a good idea to start to gather a picture of him and how we can help him.
A few weeks ago our lovely first aid volunteer helped a man who had recently cut at his wrists. Emma had checked the wounds were clean and redressed them for him. He came in again this week. It was good to see him interacting with the other people in the room and laughing. He said he was feeling better this week.
Universal Credit Concerns
One of our ex-rough sleepers came in. He is now in a property and much more settled. However for the last few weeks he has had terrible trouble with his Universal credit application which I gather has been a nightmare. It will be back dated so will clear his arrears that have accumulated due to the delay in getting it sorted. Often people who have been homeless still feel frightened and anxious once they are housed as the fear of becoming homeless again is always on their minds. It is nice to see them come back in for support and help through outreach and the services we provide if necessary.
Life Mentor Needed
One of our clients who has come to the Soup Kitchen since the beginning is struggling and worrying. Everything with him is based on trust. He worries how he can ever trust someone enough to let go of some of his pain. He struggles so much with emotional and physical pain. He is a lovely, lovely man. He is broken and so fed up of feeling so sad. He just needs a support and caring system around him to help him work through his different worries and feelings.
To help him, I have offered to go to any appointments he wishes. He wants “life mentor” as he calls it and is what he wants but does not know anyone. It would be a commitment for somebody to take that on that mentorship role, but he would benefit from the right person hugely. It would need a huge amount of compassion and patience. We do what we can in the mean time.
Suffering In Silence
Physical marks often appear on people who come in, usually it is “I walked into a door” or “I tripped”. It’s a tough life out there for many many of our clients. They are too scared to report anything to the police and suffer in silence. It is hard to see when you get to know these clients week in week out. What we can do however is support people and guide them where we can to help they require. It is very difficult to help people who are not able or willing to engage so we just listen if that is all that they want. A listening ear and a bit of compassion goes a long way.
Gratitude From Mencap
As you all know we now take food to Mencap who are virtually next door. The lead volunteer last week got quite emotional with Emma when she took the food around. He said that us giving them food has saved the charity money so they could afford a trip to the beach. One of the residents had not been to a beach before. He really wanted to say thank you to the Soup Kitchen for our continued support.
Books Needed For Library
One of our volunteers was concerned this week about a particular client who was so lonely and upset. The volunteer commented a wonderful thing. “Do you read? If you do, then you always have a friend”. So true. We do give out books and they seem very popular. We would love some books to keep our small library going. Thrillers go down well so please if books can be donated to the hall on a Thursday we would be grateful.
Small Acts Of Kindness
The sunshine does make the world seem a better place. However for some it just brings another day of sadness and pain. When you pass a person on the street who looks homeless, please try to look at the person and the reason why they may be there not, the stigma that may surround them. Small acts of kindness go a long way.