Identification, Community Outreach & Mental Health

Tonight, as Cath described it, was a funny, peculiar night. Not as busy as some with 37 clients through the door. 

All the food went, there was no food donated from Greggs on Northbrook street as it has been closed for refurbishment. Unfortunately Greggs closed on the A4 before our regular volunteer who picks up the food each week could get through the particularly bad traffic. 

Pret did not have as many food donations for the Soup Kitchen either this week. We think the warmer weather has brought people out in the sunshine and therefore more people in the town to purchase food. It is typical that these eventualities happened on the same week. We rely heavily on these donations. However, our wonderful volunteers in the kitchen bulked the Bolognese out a bit with some tinned tomatoes, and we had plenty of hotdogs and beans on toast in reserve. 

We had mushroom soup, vegan burgers in a bun, with cheese and salad for the vegetarian and vegan clients. For dessert we had apricot and peach tart, which went down very well. It is fun working out what three courses we can produce with the donated food we have been given. As most weeks we had a huge potato salad which all went also, that helped fill the gap from the lack of donations of sandwiches this week. 


Frustrating night tonight, as we had a driving licence application rejected, as the person in question was using the Salvation Army address as their main address. Many, many people use the Salvation Army as their address and it has not been a problem before. The reason given for the rejection was that is that the Salvation Army hall is not a residential address. All other documentation was in place so this is a difficult hurdle to cross for a rough sleeper. We have since gathered other documentation together and with a letter from the Soup Kitchen to confirm the reasons why the Salvation address is needed. People who are rough sleeping do not fit into the box that society seems to want to put us all into. We often have to be inventive and be very patient when it comes to helping people with applications for bank accounts, ID etc. Often people do not have the exact documentation required. We usually get there in the end. It may involve phone calls, extra letters or other documentation that is not usually accepted in order to strengthen someone’s success in gaining these important items. Members of the public usually take for granted bank accounts, photographic ID and birth certificates. These can be huge mountains to climb for some. We get always there in the end.

Community Outreach & Services

We are all very excited that we will be hosting The Community Dental Outreach Team and the HOLT Outreach Nursing Team to work within the Soup Kitchen 4-5pm on a Thursday, alternating weeks. The dental team are starting 13th June; we are waiting to hear if the HOLT nurses will start the week before or after. The dentist and HOLT teams have said that clients are not using the services at Swanswell or Two Saints as much as they had hoped so it is thought they may come to the Soup Kitchen instead, as we are known to the clients and also more centrally located in town. We are grateful to Jane Clubb at Swanswell and The Salvation Army for helping us facilitate this.  

Clients who want to use these services will do so on a first come first served basis, and wait outside the building, so it does not interfere with the setting up of the Soup Kitchen session. It will be held from a small spare room in the foyer of the hall, we are confident it will be a great success. Meryl and Mai-Britt will come in earlier to support the dental and HOLT session staff to ensure it runs smoothly and effectively as possible for them. 

Mental Health & Our Clients

The relationship between homelessness and mental health can be complex, where one can be both the cause and result of the other. Unsurprisingly, people without a safe and secure home to live in have high rates of poor mental health.

It is thought that 45% of homeless people have been diagnosed with a mental health issue, which is nearly double that of the general population which is thought to be around 25%. When asked, 80% of homeless people self-reported some form of mental health issue.

In particular, the incidence of depression among people who are homeless is substantially higher. A significant number of people who are homeless also have other mental health problems including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis and post traumatic stress disorder.

People who are homeless often struggle to access mental health services.  Many people who are homeless will tell you that their mental health deteriorates as their situations get worse; difficulties in accessing services; poor or inadequate treatment and misdiagnosis. People who sleep rough can often get stuck in vicious cycles, poor mental health can act as a barrier to engaging with much needed support services and their homelessness situation can act as an obstacle in getting the support they need. We see this in clients of ours all the time. Of course on top of this is the added complication of addiction that also runs hand in hand with mental illness. Dual diagnoses work (addiction and mental health together) is important and becoming more recognised.  One treatment will not work effectively without the other. Often it is difficult to fathom “what came first the addiction or the mental illness” proper diagnosis, treatment and compassion all need to run hand in hand too. 

We had two successful quiz nights this week at The Red House in Marsh Benham and The Castle in Donnington.  In total we raised about £258 so it will put through to The Good Exchange as we are still fortunate enough to be receiving Match Funding from Greenham Trust. Donations and fundraising is so important in order for us to continue with our work. If you would like to arrange a fundraising event for Newbury Soup Kitchen you can get in touch with us through

Support Newbury Soup Kitchen

We are so pleased that our van has arrived and we have a nice article in the NWN this week. It was great today to be able to put everything in the van and so much easier. We are going to use it on Saturdays when we provide food for our clients in the Wharf at 4pm. 

As always, we need your support to be able to continue helping our less fortunate friends and clients every week.

Through our The Good Exchange project, you can donate the exact amount of money you choose, directly supporting all of our services. Donations are matched £ for £ courtesy of The Greenham Trust.

With Amazon Smile, you can use this link to shop at Amazon and we will receive 0.5% of your order value. Simply use your existing Amazon account and share the benefits !

Alternatively, you can purchase very specific items from our Wish List, directly benefiting users of the Newbury Soup Kitchen. This list changes seasonally so keep an eye out for changes….