Introducing the Newbury Soup Kitchen & Haven (West Berkshire)
Haven (West Berkshire) is the organisation name and registered charity which oversees and provides the Newbury Soup Kitchen service. Whilst the original concept did indeed start with simply the Soup Kitchen, it soon became apparent that some semblance of organisation and structure was required to develop ideas further.
We remain a small localised charity operating efficiently through a large number of volunteers; each with different interests, but all with a common interest in helping the homeless and those less fortunate and vulnerable.
The History of HAVEN...
In 2014 Meryl Praill started volunteering for Newbury Foodbank at the Salvation Army Hall in Northcroft. Having experienced financial hardship after the 2008 financial crisis, Meryl passionately wanted to help others who had become vulnerable through economic circumstances. While volunteering at the Foodbank it becoming apparent to Meryl, that so much more could be done for the homeless and vulnerable in West Berkshire. Meryl wanted to do more and approached the Salvation Army to ask if they would allow her to run a Soup Kitchen.
The first Newbury Soup Kitchen session was held in Jan 2017 and was an immediate success. Each week the number of service users and their needs grew as did the number of volunteers. Before long and with the help of some key volunteers, Meryl was working 7 days a week organising the Soup Kitchen, sourcing suppliers, and recruiting the volunteers. After visiting the Soup Kitchen in February 2017 Peter Dunn met with Meryl and they discussed how they could better serve the homeless and vulnerable of West Berkshire by setting up a day centre, and the idea of HAVEN was born.
The challenge facing Newbury and West Berkshire in terms of homelessness and supporting vulnerable people is immense and should not be under-estimated. Whilst a tremendous amount of work has been undertaken by a wide number of organisations, statutory and voluntary, the need is increasing.
Groups and services need to be organised in a manner that fosters greater understanding from their potential users, and easier access for people who often have an immediate and urgent need. There is an range of organisations already meeting these vital needs within our communities, but far too often these are not understood by the very people needing them.
We believe that HAVEN can provide a hub from which services can be accessed and better communicated, so that potential users are aware of what is available to support them. We are committed to working collaboratively with existing services providers.