Meryl Praill - Founder And General Manager
I conceived the idea of the Newbury Soup Kitchen in November 2016 whilst volunteering at our local FoodBank at the Salvation Army hall in Newbury. It came to my attention that Loose Ends drop-in centre which has been established for many many years did not open on a Thursday or Saturday, therefore there was a need for an additional resource for the homeless and rough sleepers within Newbury. I had no experience with Mental Health, addictions or Homelessness and it has been an enormous learning experience for me and taught me a lot about myself also.
With the support of Andrew Williams, Commanding Officer of the Salvation Army, I put together all the resources needed to be able to open the doors of the Soup Kitchen in January, 2017.
We now have a regular clientele along with new clients each week. We welcome up to 60 in a session people with warm healthy food, drinks, compassion and empathy and we have approximately 60 volunteers. Since opening I have mentored and supported individuals and worked to establish trust and friendship with our guests that come in, this hopefully makes this dreadful situation people find themselves in more comfortable. I work to make everyone feel valued and try to help them on their chosen paths to a better life. The Soup Kitchen has become a place of trust and support for many people. It has enhanced my life and I look forward to each session with sometimes anticipation but excitement too.
We have now set up a session on a Saturday in the Wharf to fill the final gap in the week for food for local rough sleepers which is expanding each week.
I’m excited for the future of the Soup Kitchen and our expansion into our charity HAVEN (west Berkshire) to open a Community Support Centre in the town to provide a safe welcoming place for homeless and vulnerable people in our community. To provide Outreach by working with other organisations to help and support people to improve their lives and future.