Wow, 49 clients in this week! The busiest yet. Richard said however that he thought a few extra people had come in without signing in. We also welcomed three new volunteers this week. Abi and Zoë who are going to help with ID applications for people and Matilda who is a newly retired GP. It’s great to have their support and expertise in the team. As I’ve said before, roll your sleeves up strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride. We are really pleased to have you. Abi is fundraising also for the funding to help pay for these applications via our Just Giving page.
We didn’t get as much food as last week and we had most of the holiday team back so we were not so overwhelmed. Mai-Britt and I even got a cuppa tonight. Jan cooked cauliflower cheese, we did jacket potatoes and bolognese sauce. It went down really really well. So much food was consumed there was nothing left at the end of the evening.
No Hot Water
We had no hot water at all this week. In order for us to be able to open I had to borrow a tea urn from St Nicolas Church so the kitchen had hot water. Working together with other organisations is so rewarding and allows us to achieve what we do. Thank you to them for being so kind. I’m hoping all will be fixed for our next session.
Bad Heroin Batch
We have had an alert from Denise at the council to inform us that there is a bad batch of heroin in Newbury, causing psychotic episodes. I did sit down with all the users I know and talked to them. They said shockingly that it didn’t really bother them so long as they could get their fix. We talked about working with the support services and the importance of engaging in order to get that support.
Previously I said we were very busy this week but it wasn’t too stressful. However, one of our regular clients came in again, still very very distressed. Her script (an informal colloquial term for a prescription) has been stopped as she has stopped engaging with the services. As a result she has gone straight back onto using again. Her friend came in too. They are both very depressed and have their own addictions and mental health issues. They look out for each other but at the same time are not good for each other. They bring each other down and talk of suicide is often in conversation. I introduced our new volunteer who is a recently retired GP with her for a chat. Building relationships with our clients is very important, to gain some level of trust is very important to us too. She was happier when she left but we wonder what she leaves to what her week has ahead for her.
I want to talk further with Denise, the Senior Programme Officer for (Substance Misuse, Homelessness and Smoking) Public Health and Wellbeing West Berkshire Council about how to work with drug users who come in. We however have to be transparent and vigilant at all times to ensure best practice and a zero drug tolerance is upheld on the premises.
Recently Homeless But A New Path
I sat with another client who is recently homeless, lost her flat and children, sofa surfing at present but not sure for how long. She has been clean for two weeks other than one day. She was beaming with pride. She was telling me how her taste sensations were coming back and that her nails were changing colour and her skin was improving. She is surrounded by “friends” who make bad choices, so she knows in the long run she has to start afresh. She’s been using since the age of 15. She loved Jan’s cooking. She ate two huge plates full, her appetite is coming back too. Her estranged family scooped her up and took her home for two weeks. To realise people loved her was the boost she needed to start her recovery. She was so relieved and she said she felt freer than she had felt since she was 15. I hope she manages to continue on her new path.
It’s Not Just Camping
This time of year our donations reduce but as the weather is warmer, we sometimes forget that there are still people living outside. One of our younger homeless said to me last night:
“I used to go camping when I was younger and loved it, being homeless is so different, I wish people would recognise that.”
We need tarpaulin donations too. In this wet weather often tents leak, it gives extra support. Our wish list is updated regularly, donations from the local community are very much appreciated.
Finally, Sue. She is our wonderful local PCSO had a special birthday today. She even chose to come in on her birthday. We gave her a cake, flowers and a bottle of champagne. So many of our clients have great relationships with Sue, she always puts the vulnerable community in Newbury first. The clients all waited until 7pm for us to sing. There was a huge amount of respect in the room.
Card Games, Banter And Laughter
Card games went down well this week. Sometimes when I go upstairs I stop and listen. It’s lovely to hear the laughter and banter going on below. The cousin of Sally (one of our volunteers) came in to visit. She was shocked and overwhelmed of the atmosphere, calmness and sense of happiness that was around the room. She said that all her perceptions of street homeless and homeless people were wrong. She had a wonderful evening.
Underwear Still Needed
We are still looking for men’s boxer shorts M/L and socks. We have put them up on our wish list or they can be dropped off during a Thursday evening when the Soup kitchen is open.
An Enjoyable Session
It was an enjoyable session this week, we do not always feel that. We never know who or what situation are going to come into the Soup Kitchen but we do know that everyone is treated equally, with respect and a non judgemental attitude. We have a zero tolerance with bad behaviour and aggression and of course drugs and alcohol. In 17 months we have had to call the police twice. Our clients respect the Soup Kitchen and the volunteers too. It is a great place to be. We are all so proud of what it has achieved and how it is growing to help more people and provide more support. Well done to everyone involved. It will not work without everything everyone does in the sessions or in the background.