The evening started with a big queue of people, 48 came through the door in total. Greenham Trust came in to make vegetable soup. Three lovely ladies named Louise, Alex and Juliet arrived early to make the Soup in advance. Chris Boulton CEO and some of the other staff Oonagh, Julie and Roisin came in later on. It was lovely to welcome them again. They did the same last year and we had all agreed it was a great success. Greenham Trust supports us so much with the Soup Kitchen and are helping us with our hopes for the future. We are looking forward to having them back next year, if not before.
Christmas Collection Raises Over £900.00
This weekend a team of Soup Kitchen volunteers went out onto Northbrook Street to collect money for the Soup Kitchen. Spending three hours standing in one place we got very cold and wet. Fiona commented on the realisation of how cold it was and how easy it was for us to go home and warm up.
During the time we were collecting money one of our regular clients was not that far away from us sat by a shop window on a sleeping bag. Fiona bought him a hot chocolate. He stayed in the same position the whole time we were there, sat on a cold pavement watching the Christmas shoppers walking past. A horrible contrast and distressing to see.
We want to say a big thank you to the people who donated money to the value of £947.70 and to the people who stopped to talk to us and bought us a coffee. Thank you. It was cold but it was an enjoyable afternoon.
On the subject of donations, in association with Vodafone and JustGiving, we have implemented the JustTextGiving system here at the Newbury Soup Kitchen. JustTextGiving by Vodafone is supported by the Vodafone Foundation (registered charity 1089625). Text donations are free for Vodafone customers. Other networks may charge you for your text, so check your operator’s standard rates before texting. Donations are made to HAVEN (West Berkshire) for and on behalf of the Newbury Soup Kitchen.
Volunteers Will Be Collecting This Friday
The Newbury Soup Kitchen has been invited to collect donated moneys during this Friday evening’s Sing-Along, so please enjoy the evening and support our worthy cause this Christmas.
Everyone is welcome, and no booking is required, simply register your interest in attending the event on Facebook. We look forward to seeing you in your festive jumpers and hats and hearing your voices at Newbury’s first Christmas Sing-Along
Troublesome Clients And Volunteer Teamwork
Many of our clients are long-term non-engaging resistant drinkers. Some come in after making the effort not to drink too much as they enjoy sitting to have a chat and eating a good meal. Some will come in week in week out drunk and troublesome. They are not necessarily troublesome in the sense they cause fights or arguments, but enough that we have to guide them away from potential issues and tread carefully whilst keeping our eyes everywhere to be one step ahead all the time. One person this week was a handful all session. This person moved around the room winding people up and upsetting a few. Luckily we have our wonderful volunteer Sue who is also a PCSO and was on duty. She can diffuse situations quickly. Everyone knows her and trusts her so it makes a huge difference. A few volunteers had to work together to separate conversations that could have become more concerning. We work as a team together and always have each others backs always keeping an eye on each other all the time.
Volunteer safety is paramount at all times. Not only in obvious situations such as physically by avoiding and dispersing potential autications which happen rarely but health wise too. Hepatitis A, B or C, HIV, Tuberculosis, skin conditions and germs from lack of hygiene to name a few. People who have addictions or who are rough sleeping can be more vulnerable to infections and diseases. Training is given and volunteers who are responsible for treating people and can possibly come across body fluids must ensure they wear gloves, plastic disposable aprons and for some key volunteers have a Hepatitis B vaccination. All aprons and gloves, dressings etc are thrown away in a specific yellow bin that is disposed of safely. We are expanding our training all the time and gaining as much information to improve the care and support we can offer. We rely heavily on our blue light associates but we work to complement the care they give as much as possible.
Rough Sleepers Have A Hard Life
Often people who are rough sleeping come in who look shattered. Sleeping rough can be exhausting. It is getting colder and the weather can often keep people awake too. We have had a lot of rain and windy weather. Tents are vulnerable to the elements. Having to deal with life on the streets is hard enough but coping with lack of sleep too compounds the problem. Anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness can increase. This, in turn, can increase the need to self medicate to stop the bad feelings and emotions, to block life out.
Most of the rough sleepers we know do not beg for money. The few that do hate doing it but feel they have little option. It may be because they need the money to feed a habit or money to eat. Some rough sleepers do not have benefits. We are working hard to help where we can go get a photo ID and birth certificates in order for a person to move forward with a bank account and benefits and eventually, hopefully, work. Bank accounts can be difficult to achieve, banks have different stipulations of what is required to obtain a basic bank account as a rough sleeper. Our clients can use the Salvation Army address and we can write a letter of support to go with an application if a person has very little or no documentation. Photographic ID is often required, Abi who volunteers specifically supports our clients where possible to do this.
Tom came in this evening with a large donation of goods, all from the Wish List. Tom ran 3 miles a day for 30 days for RunVEMBER 2018.
The last few days he had to borrow a child’s scooter as he damaged his toe after injuring it. We are so impressed by his dedication, even injured he carried on to ensure he would finish his promise to his friends and colleagues who were sponsoring him. He is talking about doing more for us next year too and gaining more friends to do the same RunVEMBER 2019 event.
We would like to say thank you to him for his huge commitment to us, the rough sleepers and our other clients this Christmas.
Community Furniture Project
This week we gave two vouchers out to rough sleepers for a bicycle. Kelvin and Paul from the Community Furniture Project support us hugely to help people acquire this. A bike is a huge asset to someone who is rough sleeping.
We give out a ticket and it is logged. We inform who is coming and what ticket number so we can ensure a bike is picked up by the person it is intended. We try to give out bike locks too as unfortunately many bikes locally have been going missing. The Community Furniture project help us with white goods also if we have a client who is in accommodation but cannot afford to replace a broken appliance. They deliver and pick up the old item. Donations of white goods and bicycles are always needed by the Community Furniture project if you can, please support them.
Duke of Edinburgh Award
A young lad (year 9) and his mum met Meryl at Waitrose to pick up the weekly food donation. He is completing his Duke of Edinburgh DofE Bronze award. Towards this, he has to do an hour a week of volunteering for a charity for three months. They have approached the Soup Kitchen to volunteer their time. We are unable to have volunteers in the Soup Kitchen sessions who are under 18 for Safeguarding reasons. This, however, is a perfect way that someone younger can help us and gain education and an award at the same time. It is important to us that we try to educate the younger generation to the blight of homeless and vulnerable people and educate them as much as possible to be non-judgemental and open-minded. Our new helper is going to pop into the Soup Kitchen before we open to visit us and meet some of the volunteers so he can see what we do and how we set every session up. Hopefully, then he will tell his friends and educate his friends too.
Hungerford Primary School
Meryl was also invited to Hungerford Primary School this week to talk to the children during assembly. Phil our peer to peer volunteer who has been homeless himself, will come to talk to them also. Phil is keen to educate children in this way. It is important to him to educate and explain what it is like to be homeless, especially as it is getting cold. Hungerford Primary School has offered to do a collection of specific items for us which is wonderful.
Whilst in Manchester at the weekend, Meryl saw many homeless people sitting around the outskirts of the Christmas market. There are approximately 200 rough sleepers at present in Manchester.
They met a man called Jamie and his team who are in the process of setting up a charity. They arranged a hair cutting and food session near one of the parks in the centre of Manchester. The rough sleeper we met had lost his family in a fire and through severe depression lost his job and home. He had been sleeping rough for four years. He explained what small acts of kindness can do for a person. It can save a life, reaching out, making a person feel worth something. That’s important. It was a lovely atmosphere. There was a barbecue, a volunteer vet, people giving out sleeping bags and coats. Under awnings, there were six hairdressers cutting hair and shaving and trimming people’s beards. It was a lovely atmosphere.