An incredibly cold night so we were not sure how busy we would be. I did wonder whether or not it would keep housed people indoors and the rough sleepers in their tents. In total 39 people came through the door. We even had a few people from Two Saints who braved the cold and pending snow.
On the menu tonight was curried parsnip soup, chill con carne with rice and wraps, jacket potatoes and apple crumble and custard. It all went as some people took some away with them.
A client who has been coming to see us since we started was on the verge of tears this evening. He has been called into work because of absence, due to his mental health which is spiralling downwards. The Council are chasing him for Council Tax arrears from when he was out of work for seven months last year. He is trying to chip away at it but not managing to keep up because of rent and other bills. He is unable to take time off work to go in to see the council or he fears he will lose his job, as a result he is very scared. We have encouraged him not to bury his head and at least phone them. We have consent and will see what we can do to support him. As often is the case in situations like people bury their head and do not communicate with the Council or statutory organisations directly. He is very worried about his job too. His mental health is being affected by his worries and it’s causing to keep off work which exacerbates his issues with his employer. Meryl has volunteered to act as advocacy for him if necessary.
A couple of rough sleepers have rooms in Two Saints this week which is wonderful. One has a cat, in the past we managed to get the help needed for another person to have a cat in the hostel. As long as the cat is a “house cat” Two Saints will kindly allow them in the building. We are going to organise getting the cat microchipped, spayed and treated for fleas if necessary etc. Having the cat with them will complete this person’s life for now and make them so much happier. We are pleased to be able to do this for them.
A new client who has been sleeping in their car for 7 months came in this evening. Now the weather is getting so cold they are struggling. They have left their job as they were very unhappy there and looking for work with accommodation. Up until now they have been holding down a job whilst living in their car. We often see people who are in the catering trade lose their accommodation if there work finishes for whatever reason. This person has been in the catering industry for over 25yrs. We phoned Two Saints and they were full. They can go to the Council to use SWEP the morning they need it and book in with the night shelter which opens Monday. We gave them a hot meal, a laundry tokens lots of information, support and hope. Tonight we sorted a warm bed for them and a bit of focus to move forward and improve their situation. Often people just need a bit of a leg up. Homelessness can happen to anyone. We are constantly reminded of that.
"You Have To Treat People Differently To Treat Them The Same"
Sue and Phil Newbury’s Community Police Officers came in this evening with some donations from Julie up at Tesco on Pinchington Lane. Julie is very supportive of The Soup Kitchen as she has helped us before. Sue arranged to get it to us so the police were very helpful in organising it.. Sue gave out rucksacks for the homeless at Christmas with stuff donated by Tesco. This is an extension of the theme “The Homeless are not just for Christmas” which fits perfectly with the article Meryl wrote for our blog and the NWN. Tesco wanted the police to choose a charity or organisation who work with rough sleepers to donate the goods to. They provided sun cream and toiletries. We were desperate for sun cream during the summer and Julie helped us then.
Wrapping Up Warm
One of our regular visitors arrived without a coat. Lorna tried to fashion something this evening for her but it ended up looking like a skirt. We all really do try to cover all bases!! Unfortunately we do not have dog coats. This time of year we have to remember the animals that protect their owners.
Please check out our updated website. We have made a few changes so we hope you like it. We have a clearer donate button too.
Alix came in tonight to meet our clients and volunteers, she is going to be doing our social media, putting up the blogs some weeks and supporting the volunteers who look after the website.
Going home this evening just as the snow had started, it was cold and wet… it makes you think. Spare a thought for the rough sleepers in our town. Not just the people you see in the high street, many are invisible, hidden homeless, who do not beg. Who live in cars, garages, back gardens and who sofa surf. Be kind, to everyone you meet, people who are and are not homeless. All who may be fighting personal battles need compassion and non-judgemental kindness.
Hold out a helping hand, it makes such a difference to people’s lives.