It was a very cold evening this evening. Cath said 36 people came through the door in the first 10 minutes. In total, we had 56 people, our second busiest session.
On The Menu
It was a stress-free night and people were hungry. Jan made two huge Shepherds Pie with braised red cabbage and for dessert, it was rice pudding and Jam. Every morsel went, we actually ran out.
Someone who we have been working with has come in every week for the last seven or eight months came in this evening. Much happier and looking forward to the future. They now have a room in which to live. We have asked them to have for a basic list of things they need to make their accommodation more homely and comfortable. In the New Year, we will endeavour to get some new packages of single bedding which is something we are often asked for. New is important for someone to receive especially with bedding. Starter packages are a nice idea to put together.
Meryl had a long, really good chat with someone she has known since her days volunteering in the Foodbank over the last five years. This person now has a flat. Fortunately, this person has some family who has been supporting them so are painting some of the rooms to make it more homely and also lovely be able to choose the colours they want. We have helped this person with ID so they can move on with their lives in a positive way with a support mechanism around them to provide a safety net to stop them falling down in the future. It is so wonderful to see the excitement in a person and their hopes for the future.
Soup Kitchen Visits
Adam King the Headmaster from Thorngrove School came in to see us with a cheque. They gave us money last year and supported us with purchasing a commercial freezer. He said they will support us next year too. The school held a Carol Concert and all the money came from that. We want to say thank you for their ongoing support.
Angela Ryan and her daughter came in before we opened this week. It is important not to have under 18-year-olds in the Soup Kitchen for Safeguarding reasons. Her daughter bought in Bananas, grapes and porridge pots with her £16 that she had wanted to spend on people who do not have a house. Again education is so important, to teach people the plight of rough sleepers. She was such a sweet little girl. Her mother took this picture.
We went to Hungerford to pick up an enormous donation from CDK Global (UK) Ltd in Charnham Park. They had a donation day with Christmas Jumpers. We struggled to get everything in the 4×4. Even though we have inundated, the donations are wonderful. They had purchased goods from the Wish List. This list it seems has worked as it has discouraged the huge amount of food we were given last year. We can store our donations and use them throughout the year. Donations will dry up as Christmas becomes a distant memory. So these will keep us going.
Hungerford Primary School
On Monday Meryl and Phil went to Hungerford Primary School to speak to the children in assembly. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Maybe it was the Norland Training in Meryl coming out after so many years.
We took a pop up tent and accessories that a rough sleeper would use. We encouraged the children to ask questions and they asked some great ones. For instance “What do people do all the time if they are bored?” and “Do rough sleepers sleep well in a tent, do they have trouble sleeping?”
At the end, a young boy came up and gave us a huge hug and said thank you. We would be happy to do that again. Education is important, having Phil there was also good, as we talked about him being previously homeless and some of the experiences he has experienced. The children found it fascinating. They are doing a Christmas jumper day and bringing in a pound each. The money will be donated to the Soup Kitchen. The headmaster is going to do a collection box for us too which will have books, crosswords and Sudoku which are liked by some of our clients.
Greenham Trust Sing-Along
The Greenham Trust Sing-Along was this Friday in the Market Place. We were very lucky to be asked by Greenham Trust to be the charity to collect money. It was very cold at -2 but we wrapped up very warm and with Christmas hats and fairy lights we spent three hours dancing and collecting money. Sue our wonderful volunteer who is a PCSO was on duty so she came to meet up with us.
Meryl was invited up on stage to talk about the Soup Kitchen and about the work we do and our plans for the future. Many rough sleepers were sitting around the marketplace watching the festivities. Such a contrast to the public singing and dancing, the restaurants were full of people having their office Christmas parties. It must make a person feel lonelier than ever.
We are so thankful for the generosity of the local community for all the donations and acts of kindness we have received.
Please do not forget our rough sleepers after Christmas. If you would like to donate or speak to us we would appreciate you contact us through our website. The sessions are very very busy, especially as it is getting so cold. We try to minimise people coming in while the session is open to avoid distress and confusion.
Many people have come forward asking to help on Christmas Day. The Soup Kitchen is closed Christmas Day and our volunteer list is full at the moment. However, in the New Year and throughout the year different roles and requests of help will be put up on our website. As the last few days before Christmas come and go please remember the people who are around you that are alone and lonely, a rough sleeper, homeless person or elderly neighbour. Extend the hand of kindness, small gestures make such a difference. You could make someone’s day.