Current Support, And The Run Up To Christmas

This week was a quiet one compared to recent weeks. It started with a burst of 25 people within the first 10 minutes but totalled only 37 by the end of the night. Whilst the dentists were in from 4pm, there were no takers on this occasion. 

Food this evening was a Cream of Broccoli Soup, Lasagne with Garlic Bread, Hoisin Vegetable Noodle Salad, Tomato salad, potato salad with eggs and Apple & Rhubarb Crumble with Custard. 

There were not so many of our usual attendees this evening. It seems a pattern that we are quieter during the week when The Michaelmas Fair is in town. Schools, parents and Police have been worried about a widely publicised concept known as ‘stab night’. This is a strange concept apparently appealing to secondary school kids looking to fight, whilst carrying and potentially using knives.

McDonalds have a metal detecting arch in situ and an increased Police presence across the town is both visible and ongoing. The Police are working under  [Section 60 which gives police the right to search people in a defined area during a specific time period when they believe, with good reason, that: serious violence will take place and it is necessary to use this power to prevent such violence; or that a person is carrying a dangerous object or offensive weapon; or that an incident] We are on the understanding that to date that four knives have been found and two arrests taken place.] Whilst there have been no violent altercations in many years of the Fair being in Newbury, the wider trend for youngsters to carry weapons, and now seemingly organise attacks is troubling enough to consider the threat real.

Given our location, the vulnerability of our clients and nature of potential issues, on this night in particular we have been very grateful that the extra Police presence and support from The Community Police Officers keep us all safe and put the volunteers and clients at ease. 

As time moves forward and we are involved with meeting people locally and in other areas who have been housed or are looking to be housed. Through this experience and research it has become more and more apparent that giving a person a roof over their head when they have lived a long transient lifestyle is just the beginning of their recovery. It is hard to move into a more structured life with hopefully work, independence and growth of self-esteem and confidence without intensive hand holding, extra support and help. 

[Imagine your self-esteem is a table and the legs represent your health, work, home and emotional support respectively. If one leg buckles, it puts pressure on the others. If another leg goes, the table crashes to the ground. This simple analogy not only helps explain how anyone can become homeless, but also why getting homeless people back into sustained work is a complex challenge

There are up to 300,000 homeless people of working age in England and research for the charity Crisis found getting them into work is a major way of ensuring they do not return to homelessness. But not all can be readily integrated into the workforce. Many homeless people lack life skills, which also can be known as soft skills. These include self-confidence, self-awareness and the ability to structure a day. Most people who have a support network of friends, family and work take these skills for granted. But without them, sustaining employment would be difficult. A job coach or support worker is essential to work very closely with a person on a daily basis to help with the essential skills to move forward. A person may no longer be homeless, but they can easily feel isolated and struggle on a day-to-day basis with recovery and adapting to their new life and environment. Loneliness is a huge reason for people to relapse and end up back on the streets].

When a person is living in the streets they are very rarely alone. The rough sleeping community are tight and look out for each other. A person may feel lonely but once they move into accommodation loneliness can become suffocating. It is not uncommon for relationships and friendships to continue. This can in itself hold people back from recovering and working with addictions. Friendships that are formed in a continual stressful environment are very difficult to move away from.  Breaking these relationships and starting again is a daunting prospect. This can often be the reason while people fall down. People who share addictions want to encourage and spend time with people with a similar vice. Sobriety changes a persons outlook on life and their attitude.  This in itself challenges relationships, which puts more pressure on recovery. 

As the leaves on the trees start to turn brown and drop, people’s thoughts are moving towards the festive season. As a result of this we are starting to receive requests of volunteering for Christmas Day along with donations of warm clothes etc. 

Unfortunately we will NOT be recruiting volunteers for the festive season. All our volunteers work throughout the year to gain strong relationships with our clients. Everyone is checked and passed to the high level of Enhanced DBS for vulnerable adults. Everybody is interviewed and references checked. Therefore we are not able to welcome short term volunteering. This we appreciate is not what some people want to hear and will be sadly disappointed, but there are other ways that we can be supported and that we need help that directly benefit our clients. 


Fundraising is essential throughout the year in order to help us with our ongoing work. Our week is not just two hours on a Thursday and Saturday afternoons in the Wharf. Our outreach services include helping people off the streets, supporting into rehab, housing, work and if necessary for safety into b&b. We accompany people to appointments, provide support in meetings provide clothes, basic items to help into accommodation to name but a few. All these things in one way or another cost money.

Clothes and other donations are always required but our requests are specific.  It takes a lot of volunteer hours to sort donations and store therefore we ask that we are contacted in advance through to the attention of our Donation Manager Mai-Britt.

We are trying to avoid the overwhelming however wonderful influx of donations throughout a two month intensive festive period and to spread appropriate donations throughout the year instead. The Homeless are not just for Christmas, challenges occur and people need our help all year around. 

We would however like to thank everyone who has supported us and given to the people who need it. Community commitment is essential so we can continue help our less fortunate. 

This week The Local Business Charity Business Awards took place in Maidenhead. Meryl our founder nominated Swift Couriers for their incredible help and support towards Newbury Soup Kitchen especially with providing us with our loved transit van. This allows us to store, collect, deliver donated items and food throughout the week and to feed rough sleepers and people who need a meal on a Saturday in the Wharf every week at 4pm-5pm. 

Adrian Smith the CEO of Swift was nominated by Meryl also. They have forged a strong working relationship. Adrian is always on hand for advice and encouragement for Meryl when required. 

Adrian was shocked three years ago to find that one of his employees was indeed homeless and living in a tent by the canal. This started his determination for collaboration and to help make the lives of people less fortunate better. At this point he met Meryl who had just started the Soup Kitchen. We are very grateful to all his dedication and belief in us. We are so proud to announce that Adrian won the Individual award on the night. Click HERE for the video!

We are appealing for Pot Noodles for our Thursday and Saturday sessions. These can be purchased from our Amazon Wishlist or dropped off at Co-op on Brummell Road near the Starting Gate. Please put them in our collection bin in the shop. Thank you.