We welcomed 53 clients through the door this evening! Lots of new faces and lots more complex issue clients in too. I hate these formal titles that people are given depending on their vice. However even though they can be noisy at times they were all really lovely, polite and extremely thankful of the service we provide. I said to Cath to “look what we have achieved” at the beginning of the session when the hall was full, bulging in fact, I felt so proud. We have achieved so much and provide so much to so many people.
A lovely new chap this week. He is living in a porch of a building. Mai-Britt gave him an extra sleeping bag. He has a bad back so cannot carry a tent. He’s originally from London. He enjoyed the food and chatted with another of our clients who regularly visit us. He commented on how friendly and non judgemental every one was. He may be passing through but said he would definitely come back in again if he was still in the area.
We now have two lovely ladies who come in in alternate weeks to support clients with ID. They are using their time in getting to know the clients and establishing trust and reassurance. One of the ladies put together bags of toiletries as we have been donated lots of hotel size shampoos etc. They were given out to the street homeless. Great idea as they are not heavy to carry.
We provide a lot of outreach for our clients where possible. Last Friday I met up with client who was very by distraught. Healthwatch made a doctors appointment and I went along for support. Time, empathy and trust is all this person needed to be able go and sit down and ask for help. The CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) were contacted and now hopefully this person will get the help they so desperately need. A year ago this person did not trust us enough to engage. It is wonderful to see what changes can be made with patience and time. This person has so many allergies also so Jan put together a specific meal last night which was much appreciated.
One of our regular street homeless was sick out side. We washed it down with disinfectant and boiling water. He does it often. He is diabetic and I think binges when he is with us. He does not take his medication and often feels ill once he has eaten. Many of our street homeless do not have a doctor as they are not registered. Embarrassment is one reason why a homeless person will not go to see a doctor. Thankfully, due to the new grant awarded to West Berkshire a drop in doctor will be coming to Swanswell up to 3 hours a week we are hoping this will happen from September. Many of our street homeless have health issues that are not addressed for such long periods of time.
A weekly visitor to the Soup Kitchen has teeth problems again. He has a phobia of dentists so over time he has been struck off dentist lists as he has not turned up for appointments. As a result now dentists in the town will not see him. Emergency dental helps runs from West Berkshire hospital but there is a long waiting list. Same day appointments can only be done from a surgery in Tilehurst. Most if not all our clients cannot get to Tilehurst. Trains and busses do not run directly and the routes are difficult to work out. On top of that they have lack of funds. As a result people do not go. So many of our clients spend weeks in pain. Our volunteers sometime use their own time to drive clients in pairs for safeguarding to appointments. We need more support with this issue.
From The Kitchen
The kitchen went down well this week. Carol and Debi thank you for helping Jan. It was busy tonight. Fish finger butties, Boston spicy beans and potato salad. We had been donated 300 frozen fish fingers. Also this last week Milk and More dairy have donated about 500 bottles of squash. We have donated some of it to local charities such as the Foodbank and Mencap along with local primary schools. Neil at the dairy who has given them to us reckons someone must be bathing in it. It was all dated end of June. Companies are so generous. We just need more donations of meat. The supermarkets do not like giving it out for health and safety reasons.
Items Needed For Street Homeless
We are in need of rucksacks, head torches, tarpaulins, tents and portable cookers. We still have our Amazon Wish List for ease. Our donations have dropped as I think people do not think there is such a need in the warm dry months. The street homeless need as much support with items regardless of time of year. A tent is their home. Some people slash tents, steal items. The street homeless have very little and their belongings are so vulnerable. They are always so vulnerable.
The clientele is changing. More of the dual diagnosis clients are coming in (drug/alcohol and mental health). They are more complex but are starting to trust us and hopefully take less advantage of the food. Mind you we have plenty. We do have a couple of clients that take sometimes too much food. We have to monitor that to ensure it is for personal consumption and not to be sold.
Goals Achieved For Drugs User
One of our drug users was very excited and wanted to tell me and made a point of coming to find me during the session. She had been clean five days this week. We talked about going back on script. Subutex or Methadone are the two options. She was telling me that Methadone can be addictive for some people and also some people still use other drugs such as heroin they at the same time. Subutex is not addictive and less problematic. I would never have thought I would be sitting drinking tea with a known alleged drug dealer/user and discussing the whys and wherefores of drug taking! I know you are only supposed to believe about 2% of what you hear but I genuinely believe she is trying to improve her lifestyle choices. She said I do not want to die, I want to be around for my daughter.
A Visitor For Next Week
Next week a lovely member of staff from the council is coming to see us. She is from Housing Strategy and Operations Manager Housing Service, Development and Planning, West Berkshire council. The council are wanted to support us more and are looking to help us with individual cases.
Kären came in and cut so many clients hair. She is so kind and the clients feel really touched because someone want to look after them and chat to them in a non judgemental way. Feeling pampered a bit means a lot to people who have nothing.
The Soup kitchen is a vibrant, social event for the homeless and vulnerable in Newbury. Luckily we have bendy walls in order to receive anyone who needs our support.