Volunteers who normally arrive early to help were away on holiday this week (it’s OK I’m only jealous) and one of our regular clients who always comes in to help put out tables was also unavailable. We had a last minute change of food. We have learnt our lesson that we put too much on the menu that is fiddly to cook. Prett and Greggs gave us an enormous amount of food which is fantastic, but for us this week way way too much. Mencap certainly did well this week. Actually the little girl who is always there drew us a thank you card. The supermarkets were very generous too so we had too much all around. We have left food such as fruit and vegetables for the Foodbank clients to have on Friday.
Issues At The Campsite
We had 31 people in this evening. Not as many as usual but it felt like more! It was a bit feisty. There are issues at the campsite because a tent had been set alight. There was a lot of accusations and gossip going on as the street homeless community feel very vulnerable all the time. Things settled down and the session became one of laughter, card games, chess and a good meal in the end.
Mental Health Issues Continue
We still are working with people who are struggling with their mental health. We have gained the trust of many so they do open up to us which helps. Many of our clients have few people they can trust. We feel honoured to be able to help. We have been offered a lawn mower as requested last week so we will get that to one of our clients, getting him out in the garden will help with his mental health. Fresh air and sunshine help enormously with a persons state of mind. We will continue to help and support as long as they need us.
There are a couple of people who we are particularly worried about. They both are talking about suicide. It is so important for us to have more mental health support and volunteers with mental heath experience as we feel every week we are letting people down when they walk out of that door.
New Young Homeless Couple
We also had a 16 year old and 18 year old male and female couple come in who were homeless as had been kicked out of their homes (not the first time). We called Emergency housing and felt very distressed by the reply. However they would phone the 16 year olds’ next of kin and ascertain why they were homeless. It is a huge concern because they are considered a minor. Being under 18 we had to put them in the little room away from the main hall for safeguarding reasons. We had to let them go off after an hour or so. Being on the phone to get virtually nowhere. We had considered putting them in a B&B but we were reassured they would be contacted this evening and helped. To be on the safe side we gave them a tent, sleeping bags and roll mats. At least they would be dry and warm rather than sitting in the rain waiting for potentially social services to contact them. I did warn them that they may be split up. Her with social services and him Two Saints. This world is so broken! Emma and I felt completely useless this evening. To watch two young kids walk away in from the pouring rain with the hope of a phone call was extremely distressing for us.
Visit From Dr Bal Bahia
Dr Bal Bahia, General Practitioner of Burdwood Surgery and Clinical Lead of Newbury and district CCG came in to see us. I was at a meeting with him on Friday and invited him down. We felt honoured to have him visit. We talked about the problems we face with the Soup Kitchen and the lack of medical and mental health support we have access too, also with our frustrations. However along side that he could see how dedicated we were and in his words he said “you are all addicted” to helping our clients and yes we are.
Wednesday evening was very interesting we had Drug Awareness Training from Denise, the senior Programme Officer (Substance Misuse, Homelessness and Smoking) Public Health and Wellbeing of West Berkshire Council. It was incredibly enlightening and informative. It showed us how much there is to learn about drug abuse and the constant battle to keep on top of new drugs coming onto the market.
Mens Pants And Boxer Shorts Wanted
During the winter months, donations flood in which is amazing. However naturally the public do not recognise that the needs of the street homeless are the same during the spring and summer. They still get cold and like last night very wet. Our wish list is always there to help cover the needs of our clients. So, an odd request but we need mens pants! I am often being asked M/L. We are running low on socks too. We will put some on our Amazon Wish List.
Our volunteers work so hard each week, regardless of what situation arises. It was a tough session this week for many reasons and we were all shattered. A couple of us didn’t even get a cup of tea or coffee! We will be back next week with smiles on our faces and a spring in our step as we live what we do, we really do.