This week Jan cooked a lovely carrot and cumin soup, which really was delicious, a chicken pasta bake, and a vegetarian version, with potato salad. Meryl made a rhubarb and apple crumble. The potato salad has become very popular with everyone. One of our clients said that she thinks it’s the best she has ever tasted and that is why she comes in each week. One of our clients came in very subdued. As we do each week we encourage people to sit and eat something, which settles them a bit. This person wanted to sit and talk to someone. Many of the clients have particularly good relationships with certain volunteers as they see them every week. This person was tearful as they said they were very depressed. Recently experiencing a friend overdose but thankfully survive had really rocked them emotionally. This experience has made her question her life and lifestyle. Feeling the lowest they have ever felt and a realisation that they are a vulnerable adult – and not a strong, tough, or often scary one, who is always in control. Often people talk to us about their relationship with their families and how drugs have destroyed those relationships. This person said they know they have broken their mothers heart so many times, their mother has no strength left. Fractured relationships caused more anxiety and stress deepening the emotional strain and depression that they feel.
Drug Use, Names, Effects
The effects of drug use are physical as well as emotional. Drug use can be harmful to health in the long and short term it can lead to addiction. There are so many drugs that are used recreationally. New psychoactive substances (NPS) often known as “legal highs”. These are Mephedrone (meow meow) and spice. These used to be legally available in “head shops” (shops that sell drug paraphernalia) or online. In May 2016 a new act came into effect called The Psychoactive Substances Act this means that now it is illegal to supply NPS in the UK. This includes selling them or giving them away for free (supplying). Fortunately we do not have too much of a problem with Spice in Newbury. After talking to some of our clients that have been addicted to drugs for many years say that Spice is a terrible drug and the side affects are frightening. This is known as the Zombie drug. Oxygen is restricted to the brain and therefore the body can shut down into a zombie like state. Death rates for this drug are increasing nationally as usage in cities, particularly, is increasing. Spice is a cheaper option of drug than others.
Cannabis (weed, hash, grass, skunk and marijuana) is a calming drug. It is perceived as a more natural drug because it comes from a plant. It can be taken in many ways, smoked in a joint, spliff, toke with tobacco or in a pipe known as a bong. Cannabis can make people feel happy, calm and relaxed but it can also cause paranoia, anxiety and even cause psychosis. Many of our clients use cannabis everyday and we see the long term affects. Cannabis is often used along side alcohol or other drugs. Cannabis has been linked to health problems such as Schizophrenia, infertility and it affects concentration and learning capabilities. Speed is another drug that is widely used. It does what it says on the tin. It is a stimulant drug. It is a powder that is usually pink or an off white colour that is dabbed onto gums, snorted and ingested on paper. Speed makes a person feel confident and full of energy but it does reduce a persons appetite. This drug causes teeth loss. You will see that many people who are classed as vulnerable have lost their teeth. Drug use along with smoking and a poor diet is an attributing factor. If a person uses this drug heavily over a period of days for example they can become depressed and lethargic. Taking speed puts huge pressure on the heart. This can cause high blood pressure and even heart attacks. If mixed with alcohol or people already have high blood pressure or heart issues it is particularly dangerous. Speed can also be injected. Needle usage heightens the risk of death through overdose. It is often impure and injecting it like any other drug tends to affect and cause damage to veins. Infection is a risk and as often is the case sharing needles increases the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C. Speed is highly addictive if used regularly.
Our Community Group
The campsite is going to be cleared as the eviction notice has been served. One camp member has a cat that has attached itself to the campsite, as it is a stray. The cat is very much an out door cat and is the only family this person has. They do not want to give the cat up and move into accommodation that will not be suitable for the cat. This is causing an insurmountable amount of stress for this person. Sadly what this person needs is a place to live where they can live happily with their cat. Unfortunately we fear this will not happen. Reasons like this will potentially stop someone engaging to get the help they need. Homelessness is not just someone living in a tent. We are all the same with the same emotions, worries and stresses. It is easy to criticise and dismiss homelessness as a nuisance and blight on a community. We see the emotions, sadness and complete loneliness that homelessness provides.
Lorna organised an Easter raffle for the Soup Kitchen with a prize of a knitted Easter bunny and chocolate eggs made by her mother. She raised £67.45, which will be doubled with Match Funding in the Good Exchange. The bunny was at The FlowerPot cafe for a few days, then at the council offices too. Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and to Lorna for organising the raffle, and her mother who knitted the Easter Bunny.
Everyone enjoyed the warm weather on Thursday. This picture was taken at a quiet moment. This session was calm and very enjoyable this week.
As the warmer weather is approaches it is very important for to make sure that all rough sleeper have plenty of bottled water, suncream and aftersun. Last year the tents that people were living in had temperatures of 50 degrees. They could not sleep in their tents or go in them for shade during the day. Dehydration is a huge problem. People who drink alcohol are at risk of dehydration anyway – the hot weather increases the risk factors. Symptoms begin as being thirsty, having dry mouth, and experiencing fatigue and irritability. Left untreated, dehydration can become severe, including delirium, seizures, brain damage, and even death. One of our long-term rough sleepers said to us that the hot weather is worse than the cold when you are homeless.