Help Us Support Our Clients: Coronavirus, Supplies, Mental Health

We had 45 people in tonight. We served pork, sausage and bean casserole, carrot and coriander soup and for dessert we had a mixed dark fruit and apple crumble. Our food donations have reduced this week. Usually we get lots from the supermarkets along with meat. For the first time no meat came in. Moving forward we will have to purchase meat if this continues. If the Coronavirus spreads within our service users we will have to decide how we stay open but keeping everyone safe at the same time. It will be impossible for many clients to self isolate. The people we work with every week are hungry and need the services of Newbury Soup Kitchen. We are looking into the safest and best ways to achieve this. We will consider setting up outside the hall and provide simple meals similar to what we provide on a Saturday afternoon.

Therefore Pot Noodles and tinned food such as baked beans, tuna, rice and pasta are needed more than ever. We will be looking for simple meals that we can give out and people can take away with them rather than sitting down in a room socialising in an enclosed busy space. We have been made aware that Pot Noodles are 50p in Poundland at present. They can be dropped off at the Salvation Army Hall Wednesday 2-4pm or Thursdays 4-5.30pm. There are donation points at Co-Op Brummell Rd and Wash Common and Harpers Garage Hungerford

Our plate stocks are low, we have had a couple of donations this week and we would like to say thank you. Biodegradable plates are strong and convenient to use and better for safeguarding reasons. These plates are on our Amazon Wishlist


High rates of infectious diseases among people experiencing homelessness is hardly new. Those of us who work with the homeless have over time gained knowledge and information, as a result we know that homeless people have a higher risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV and pneumonia.  This will give health providers and government officials hopefully cause for concern that coronavirus may also spread among the homeless. While it’s too early for specific studies, the conditions of homelessness may increase the risk of transmitting the coronavirus to homeless people and ultimately its spread to others in the community. There is a thought that volunteers and statutory staff are more likely to spread Coronavirus to this vulnerable cohort of people. 

Volunteers and statutory staff spend most of the time like all of us indoors in confined spaces which is a high-risk situation. We are at greater risk of contracting the virus due to less than a one to two-meter space opportunity in the workplace. Immunity for most is likely to be stronger due healthier living, better sleep, better diet and a generally less stressful lifestyle. Homeless people will as a result he more at risk and not have the physical ability to fight the virus. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. People get it when an infected person sneezes or coughs, spreading droplets in the air that could be transmitted to others. It has been widely reported that we all self-isolate if we suspect that we are ill, should stay away from others who are sick, avoiding crowds and proper hand-washing. It is also suggested that since the virus lives on surfaces for a period of time people should avoid touching surfaces that others may have touched.

These practices, however, are nearly impossible for those living on the streets, who have no way to bathe or wash hands. Few facilities have available toilets or sinks. The homeless community eat, sleep and congregate close to each other.

Once exposed, homeless people may have a higher mortality risk due to other health conditions they may already have, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and alcohol related symptoms.  Many people living on the streets already have diminished health, have higher rates of chronic illnesses or have compromised immune systems, all of which are risk factors for developing a more serious manifestation of the coronavirus infection. Those who have mental health issues may have difficulty recognising and responding to the threat of infection.

Without access, ill homeless people may be living on the streets and virtually unknown to the health care system and possibly exposing others to the virus. Homeless persons showing symptoms of COVID-19 may go to a crowded minor injuries department or doctors surgery, if the virus continues to spread, these facilities will become more crowded and wait times will increase potentially exposing more people to an extremely vulnerable infected individual who has come seeking care. Worst case scenario will be that due to embarrassment and lack of engagement someone rough sleeping with the virus may not access any medical support at all.  

Support & Outreach For Our Clients

Our new Wednesday session that provides outreach support is getting much busier. Between 2-4pm at the Salvation Army hall nurses, dentists and Sovereign housing provide the care and advocacy needed to vulnerable clients in our Community. Three people came to see the dentist, five for the nurse and one for Sovereign Housing support. . We have confirmation that funding for the HOLT has been extended which is wonderful. It is apparent that this service is invaluable to people who are vulnerable.

More than half of everyone sleeping on the streets lives with a mental health problem, while those affected by homelessness die, on average, around 30 years earlier than the general population.

Nearly four in five people living without a roof over their head have experienced some form of childhood trauma which is the cause of their mental health issues. Sadly, vulnerable rough sleepers can often face a ‘revolving door’ where they receive treatment and support, only to end up back on the streets. 

Therefore, it is very important that professional support provided at our new sessions is very important. The relaxed session where someone can come in and see a nurse, dentist or talk to a person about a problem with their tenancy over a cup of tea makes such a difference. People often bury their head with health or housing issues and only engage when situations become acute. These services are there to be used, if they are not used, we will lose them. These services can prevent homelessness!!!   

Many rough sleepers have been through incredibly traumatic experiences which can cause mental ill health or exacerbate problems – often impacting on the type of support they need, and this is about stopping people slipping through the net.

Henry & Joes restaurant are still helping us every other week providing a wonderful main meal for our Thursday session. Many other companies locally help us every week and we want to say thank you to everyone who work behind the scenes to help us the Soup Kitchen be what it is. 

Over the next few weeks no doubt it is going to be uncertain. We will do our utmost to continue to feed our clients in whatever capacity is appropriate. Vulnerable people in our community will have no other access to food if the charities have to close due to group sizes. We will move outside and provide a takeaway system to ensure people get the food they need.