Meryl mentioned that she was not sure where the two hours went this evening. It was full on from the get-go and all the volunteers definitely hit the ground running.
We had 52 people in this week. It was a slower start than usual but the numbers did fill to our now expected above 50. We thought it to be quieter due to the wind and rain, but the call of a wonderful meal and support had a strong pull it seems.
Ready, Steady, Cook
A week ago we were donated lots of 2.5KG catering size tins of kidney beans, white beans, black beans, butter beans, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and chipotle peppers. Each box has 6 tins each we have 21 boxes in all.
The donation came from Compleat Food Network in Newbury. Amazing stuff! The date is mainly until 2020 so we will be able to use them up. The jalapeño peppers that we put out this evening for people to have if they wished, actually went down very well. We were surprised that they were so popular.
Meryl sat down and filled out a MEAM form with one of our regular clients. She saw him earlier at Eight Bells garden party. She asked him to come in sober as she wanted to sit with him and go through a form. He did come in and it was great to see that he had made a special effort not to drink so much today. They had a good chat and this gave Meryl the opportunity to learn lots about him. Hopefully, he will be accepted into the cohort and get the extra support to help him. The MEAM project is producing good results we are excited in the continued working relationship we have with the MEAM co-ordinator and hope we can together get people in a more stable situation.
More Legal Support Needed
We phoned our contact solicitor this evening about a new man who has not been in before. He is facing eviction on Sunday with a private landlord. Our solicitor did talk to him. Nothing was formal through the courts, so the solicitor gave him some advice which the client seemed happy with. Usually, he will only work with formal eviction notices on legal aid. We need more legal support as many of our clients have issues and usually no money to use a solicitor.
One of our clients has to go to court on his own with no legal representation with regard to access to see his children. He said he sat in the court on his own not understanding a word the judge said while the mother of his children had representation. As a result, he feels he has no chance at all with regard to his children and building a relationship with them. He said it was a daunting, frightening experience.
If you are a solicitor or knows someone who is and can help, please contact us via our volunteer opportunities page.
Our two new residents to Two Saints are settling in well. One of our volunteers overheard one saying:
It’s lovely to hear positive feedback for a change. We know Two Saints do so much hard work and the staff are so caring and patient with people. We have seen some brilliant support especially working so closely with them over two of our clients in the last week. We applaud their work and again enjoy working with them when we can.
Something shocked us this evening. One of our original clients from when the Soup Kitchen opened, was verbally aggressive and abusive to a volunteer. Unfortunately, he lost his temper. We think our volunteer may have politely questioned him about something and that really riled him. He then just became very aggressive.
It reminds us that we are dealing with people many that have deep rooted mental health issues. Yes, we have a laugh and usually a lovely time but the people who come in are our clients and not close and personal friends. That can be hard to remember and draw a line sometimes, especially when we see people every week.
Our volunteer did nothing wrong. Our client sadly was very agitated when he arrived. Our clients are often on drugs of different descriptions, alcohol, painkillers along with a long history of mental health issues. We will never know all their stories and often cannot understand. We are there to listen, listen to everything and comment about nothing. Often people who use the Soup Kitchen are incredibly untrusting of any authority or perception of authority.
If this client does it again however, Meryl will have to formalise it which she does not want to do. Hopefully, he will see the error of his ways. We must also remember that we are all volunteers and we do not have to tolerate bad behaviour from anyone. The Soup Kitchen has zero tolerance.
Applause Of Thanks
Someone we haven’t seen for a while came in this evening. He has just come out of prison and is clean, off drugs and alcohol. He’s sleeping in a tent for now. Meryl talked about his behaviour in the past and said how much he had unnerved her on a particular day, months ago. He was hugely apologetic, explaining how he is going to try hard and is determined to keep himself on the straight and narrow. Before he left this evening, he stood up and applaud he volunteers in the hall and did a small speech of thanks.
We often get gestures of thanks but when someone does that, we are taken aback. It was lovely. A different person!
Dairy Produce Needed
Sandra has offered to do the Lidl supermarket pickups on a Monday and Thursday for us which is wonderful. Emma is picking up the Co-op milk. They have restricted us now, so we no longer have the privilege of free cheese, butter and margarine. Any idea from anyone to get a continual supply of these things would be amazing.
We are looking to organise more training in November for Naloxone with Swanswell and anger management through the police. We ran a similar training session last year for Naloxone, which is an injection given in the top of the thigh to take someone out is an opiate overdose quickly. It can save a life.
Light, Camera and Action
We had a bit of fun this week before we opened. Meryl needed a few photos for the newly revamped website that has been built for us by Mark who has surpassed all our expectations.
We are now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Every week our followers increase. It is very important to us all that the “voice” of the homeless is communicated to the local community. The local community can be aware of the everyday struggles and difficulties our rough sleepers, homeless and vulnerable community face on a minute by minute and day by day basis. They are our responsibility. We should all be doing our little bit, whatever and whichever way we can. A donation of Pot Noodles to volunteering or setting up a website for a charity. Every gesture can make a difference.