It was important that we provided our clients with some sort of festive cheer this year given the restrictions of COVID 19. Over previous years we have had a sit-down Christmas meal with all the trimmings. We usually have a ukulele band called NUTS too but not this year. Santa has been given special dispensation as he has been self-isolating was able to come and visit. He socially distanced and handed out premade bags full of gifts and Christmas treats.
The food was prepared and cooked by volunteers. They have been so wonderful at organising and working together to produce such a comprehensive meal. A kitchen bubble worked in the kitchen and helped serve up over 60 portions into slightly larger than usual foil containers.
The meat was donated by Walter Rose and Sons Devizes and Vickers Game Ashampstead and vegetables were mainly donated from Waitrose and Tesco locally. We had intended to use our new kitchen but unfortunately out of our control it was not quite ready, so we decided to stop stressing about it and use the Salvation Army hall from 3pm to get everything ready and sorted. Christmas puddings were donated, and we also had Yule log donated from the Co-Op at Wash Common.
As a team that was split into bubbles everyone worked hard to ensure that even without a sit-down meal as before everyone had a festive night. Santa arrived as last year. He has been self-isolating ready for Christmas Eve, therefore we had to ensure he was COVID safe. He was by the van away from everyone, giving out gifts that had been prepared by one person and left for 72 hours for extra precaution. He was so funny, and we are pleased to hear if we are good he has promised to come back next year.
Santa was able to have a socially distanced chat to people to give a little comfort and festive cheer. For many people it is all about having someone to talk to or to be listened to. Loneliness and day to day feelings of desperation and despair are commonplace. Santa definitely cheered people up.
The bags were printed for free by Squeegee and Ink and the bags themselves were left over from last year. They were filled from items donated from our Amazon Wishlist, our donation bins around the town; such as Co-Op Hungerford Petrol, Wash Common, Speen, Lidl (Retail Pk and A4) and Harpers Garage in Hungerford too.
We had a long queue of clients and we gave out extra meals to their partners or friends. We delivered another three meals on the way home to ensure they were not wasted.
It has been a challenging year for all charities who have had to adapt and change how they provide essential food provision throughout the pandemic. We have been no exception, our priorities have always to make sure people in need have been fed and supported.
However, to ensure safety and happiness the of volunteers has also been paramount. It was wonderful to see the enjoyment the volunteers during the session being able to spread a bit of festive cheer and put a smile on people’s faces.
This week not only have we fed the session clients we have fed some clients referred to the Foodbank. This week (Wednesday) and extremely unfortunately the West Berkshire Foodbank had to close down due to COVID. This is probably only happening for a couple of days for a deep clean and to put contingency plans in place. In the meantime Community Furniture Project and Newbury Soup Kitchen have delivered food parcels and we have donated fresh food to them to help with the parcels.
Due to COVID we were donated a fridge van full of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables from a TV catering company. It was too much for us to use so we divided it up for the outreach workers to donate to people still in emergency accommodation and the rest went to the Community Furniture Project so they can support the Foodbank. Collaboration with other charities is important and hopefully all of us working together has bridged the gap so people in need received food parcels. At any point any of the charities may have to shut or reduce provision due to the Pandemic so it is comforting to know others will step in to help.
We have updated our Amazon Wishlist https://amzn.to/2fYwyJz which has items that we use every week for the sessions and also items such as tents and sleeping bags that will help support rough sleepers throughout the winter. With items such as this we are also able to support the council and hostel outreach workers who can come to our new unit and help themselves to anything, they need for vulnerable people we all work with. Collaboration is key and now we have storage and facilities in one place we can do this more effectively. Your donations matter and make a difference to people’s lives.
Our project on The Good Exchange is an easy way to donate https://app.thegoodexchange.com/project/18016 on this also you can read up about us a bit more.
Facebook has a donation button which is at the top of this link and you can reach our Just Giving donation page here. http://www.justgiving.com/haven-westberkshire
Cheques can be made out to Newbury Soup Kitchen posted to
Newbury Soup Kitchen
HAVEN (West Berkshire)
1 Hambridge Lane,
We are providing food throughout the Christmas week as usual including Christmas morning. Unfortunately, we are not in need of volunteers for this coming week and moving forward. We have reduced our weekly volunteer numbers as we work in bubbles and are keeping our numbers down generally in order to reduce risk to our volunteers, clients and the running of the sessions.
Thank you for reading our weekly blog and supporting Newbury Soup Kitchen.