Dealing With Alcoholism & Epilepsy

This was a particularly full on session this week. We had 47 people through the door, 7 haircuts and one chiropody appointment. 

We knew it was going to be a difficult session, we could hear people across the river who were waiting to come in when we opened. As it was a warm afternoon many people had been drinking alcohol, as a result they were a bit rowdy. There was a waft of marijuana coming across from the river into Northcroft Lane. Some clients have alcohol and weed addictions, but we are happy to have people into The Soup Kitchen as long as they are respectful and well behaved.

On the menu this week we had Macaroni Cheese, sausages, salad, homemade coleslaw and potato salad. For dessert we had pineapple upside pudding and custard. This meal was very popular and it had been requested by a client during the week, sadly that client did not remember to come in to have some. We will however make Macaroni Cheese again. 

Sue and Kate were in tonight to provide haircuts and chiropody. Sue our podiatrist/chiropodist came in especially to see a client who is having trouble with their feet. This can be a service that is unobtainable or unaffordable to many people who come in to visit us. So for us to be able to offer this service is wonderful. Space is the only reason that we cannot provide both haircuts and foot treatment services weekly. 


The UK recommended maximum limits are 14 units of alcohol a week for men and women. Moderate to heavy drinking acts as a trigger for seizures in quite a lot of people.

Research shows that it is withdrawal from moderate/heavy alcohol consumption that induces the seizures, not necessarily the drinking itself.

In addition, drinking too much alcohol can cause a person to:

  • Vomit and lose important anti-epilepsy medication from their system. 
  • Forget to take epilepsy medication at the correct time or at all.
  • Sleep deprivation 

Alcohol is a drug, and one reason it can trigger seizures is by interacting with other medications that may already be in the bloodstream. It also dehydrates the brain, which happens during the “hangover” or withdrawal stage. This may be one reason that seizures are common during this period. 


It is not uncommon that we have to deal with epilepsy in the Soup Kitchen. Some clients are diagnosed with epilepsy and some have alcohol-induced epilepsy. We will always call the paramedics and time the seizure so we can give the paramedics as much information as we can. Volunteers are trained to Heartstart or British Red Cross (First Aid at work, 3 day course) standard through our training programmes or through their own work place requirements. 

Some sessions we may have to deal with more than one event and situation at a time. Volatile relationships and past and present feuds do occasionally find themselves bubbling over in The Soup Kitchen. We have to de-escalate and assess situations to ensure safety of the clients and volunteers at all times. 


National estimates are that 20 to 25% of homeless people are mentally ill. Of those 70% have personality or other psychiatric disorders such as bi-polar, depression, paranoia, borderline, antisocial, schizophrenia, delusional or psychotic traits. Many struggle with undiagnosed Autism. Due to these issues many people cannot learn or recognise repeated mistakes or behaviours. It is not unusual for a person to be in constant conflict with nearly everyone who tries to help them; they cannot control their behaviour during everyday or especially stressful interactions. About 40% of homeless people struggle with alcohol abuse and 25% with drug addiction. Addictions also cause people to stand still in life making wrong choices and decisions causing the situation of homelessness or repeated homelessness a reality.


When The Soup Kitchen is open we have four main areas that need to have volunteers to be in attendance ready to react and deal with any situation that may occur. If an incident happens outside for example that needs the attention of a few volunteers we have to make sure that the other areas are covered to ensure the other clients are safe and supported. Sitting down with clients is paramount; people come in for support and friendship so we as volunteers make sure we can provide that support. It can be easy to spend all our time with quieter, less demanding clients; it does not mean their needs are any less important.  

Help Needed!

We are still looking for a First aider to come and volunteer to our Thursday sessions 5.30-8.30pm. 


In September we will be opening 2-4pm on Wednesday afternoons to provide Outreach and Support with tea and coffee. Volunteers required to help

1.30pm until 4.45pm. Please contact:


An application form, DBS Enhanced application or certificate and references will be required.