Healthcare For The Homeless

It was busier again this evening. We are much happier when it is busy to see people having a good meal and a socially enjoyable time. Ideally of course it would be better not to have the need for a Soup Kitchen. Many of our clients just come for the company if they are lonely. 

Jan cooked roasted red pepper and tomato soup, sausage and bean stew, potato salad and Meryl made a rhubarb and apple crumble. As usual it went down very well, the stew particularly.

Colline from Colline’s kitchen in the Town Hall popped in with some of her unsold food. She is a wonderful lady and makes the most exquisite food, mainly vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. She has been giving food to us on a Saturday in the Wharf for some time. In fact she has got to know some of our clients now and gives them freshly baked beautiful food during the week.  Everything comes with a completed allergen form so we know what is in Colline’s food when the food comes in.

In the Soup Kitchen there can often be issues between clients about money. People are always lending money to each other. Chaotic lifestyles and debts often unpaid or denied can cause friction between individuals. We often have to become referees or try to defuse situations before they become a problem. Many clients fixate on an issue all the time often reliving or arguing about the same issue often for weeks and weeks at a time.  

We build relationships over time with our clients; sometimes when they fall down and their drug use increases they are worried and upset that we will be disappointed or worried about them. This is an interesting concept; it does show that the realisation of their actions and drug usage affects others that they know. This may be the start of rehabilitation for some. Working weekly with people and talking openly about their usage is important. People have to acknowledge their addiction before they can start to work on rebuilding their lives without a drug or alcohol habit.  sh


The HOLT (Health Outreach Liaison Team) nurses came in this week. One is a practice nurse and the second is a mental health nurse, which is invaluable for us and we are so pleased about the support they can offer. As the word gets around we are very hopeful that the service will be widely used by people who find it difficult to access a doctor in the usual way. 

Next week we have the Community dental team coming in so we are looking forward to that. 


It is reported that nearly a third of homeless people die from treatable conditions. This means that many homeless people die unnecessarily as they do not access or feel unable to access the help and support they need. 

The research by University College London (UCL), shows that homeless people are much more likely to die from certain conditions than even the poorest people in our society who have a place to live.

The figures of homeless people in this country have increased and are shocking, estimations vary but we have researched and found figures of 2,627 homeless people in England and Wales from 2013 to 2017 with 597 in 2017 alone. More than a quarter were under 40 when then they died the average age of homelessness death in this country is 44yrs old, a lower age than in the past two years.  

While we would assume that death would be caused by hypothermia or drug and alcohol overdoses latest research by UCL shows that in fact most homeless people die from illnesses. Nearly a third of the deaths were from treatable illnesses like tuberculosis, pneumonia or gastric ulcers, which could potentially have improved with the right medical care. Medical care that was not available or not sourced. 

It has been researched that homeless people who died in a hospital and were homeless when they were admitted were disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease, which includes strokes and heart disease. Sadly homeless people were twice as likely to die of strokes as the socially poorest people who have accommodation.  Cancer deaths are very high along with illnesses such as digestive diseases especially intestinal obstruction or pancreatitis and commonly cirrhosis of the liver, yet another reminder of how deadly homelessness is.

People who are rough sleeping still have pride. They feel embarrassed to sit in a doctors or hospital waiting room for an appointment.  Many doctors’ surgeries will not accept people of NO FIXED ABODE onto their register. Chaotic lifestyles and mental health also prevents and hinders people keeping important appointments and attending treatment for potentially life threatening conditions.  Feelings of worthlessness are very common and the thoughts of “No one will miss me anyway”. It is very common for people who are homeless and rough sleeping to give up altogether and do not recognise symptoms of ill health. We hope that having the nurses and dentists at the Soup Kitchen will help detect symptoms that perhaps have become a risk to health.  

Modern Slavery, Appeals For Donations

We have asked Phil an ex client who now helps us with all our graphic work to write some stories about the days he was homeless and his experiences. He has written a piece about his touch with “Modern day Slavery” – It is an interesting read. 

We are appealing for tents…The night shelter is now closed and at the moment many of the people who were rough sleeping have been housed but there are still people who are. We have new clients that come into the Soup Kitchen every week who find themselves homeless, frightened, confused and anxious. For us to be in a position to be able to provide a hot meal, suitable camping equipment and tent for them to sleep in is the least we can do. 

We have them now on our wish list and they can also be dropped off at the Salvation from 3-5.30pm on a Thursday. They need to be complete and ideally labelled with the sleeping capacity on them. 

The local West Berkshire Foodbank is low of stock, they support us and have done since the beginning of the Soup Kitchen. Unfortunately people have reduced their supermarket donations. 

Universal Credit has caused the demand for food parcels in this first quarter of this year to be double for the same period last year. May we request that if you see the Foodbank bin at your local supermarket you buy an item. They have an app also so you can monitor what particular items they are low on at any given time. We are always using squash, tinned fruit, pot noodles and soup (for our Saturday Soup run in the Wharf) again they can be donated on a Thursday 3-5.30pm or Roger can take them off you on a Saturday 4-5pm in the Wharf, look for our van.