Not such a busy night tonight but nevertheless it was still full on and challenging at times.
We tried to make the meal easy for the kitchen, as we were a bit short staffed in there tonight unfortunately that didn’t work. We had a vegetable pasta bake, roast vegetable soup, sausages, vegetables and chips. Pear and Apple crumble with custard. Unfortunately the sausages and chips took too long to cook. It did get a bit fretful at times but everyone received a good quality meal and were happy even though they had to wait a bit longer than usual. We served the Soup and gave out the pasties and sausage rolls donated by Greggs, which kept everyone happy until the main meal was ready.
We had a Flu Clinic this week that was really popular. This is the third year we have held this and we are grateful to Public Health and Wellbeing from West Berkshire Council collaborating and working with us on this. A few people were unable to have it due to feeling under the weather but 14 volunteers and 12 clients had the vaccine. We will organise it again for next year. Some people were nervous about having the flu vaccine but the take up was much higher this year. We gave out information to help bust some of the myths about the flu jab, which helps people make an informed decision. We were very pleased how it went.
It was a quieter night with only 34 people through the door. On the whole the atmosphere was good but there were a couple of incidents.
Sometimes new people come into the Soup Kitchen who are temporarily in the area, and have found themselves homeless after losing work or due to a relationship breakup. This sometimes causes friction or they do not get along with someone they have met whilst living rough or staying in sheltered accommodation. We have to watch carefully to see if situations are escalating. Situations can arise very quickly especially if alcohol is involved and people have been drinking before they come into the session.
We do not allow alcohol in the building unless it is removed and kept safe to return to the owner when they leave. Unfortunately some people are reluctant to give it up and would rather drink it before they come in. This is not ideal so we gently try to talk to someone about this and avoid any problems. We have to pick our battles sometimes. We can easily make a situation worse so we have to always tread very carefully and never become confrontational or demanding but try to reason and explain which can be difficult especially when someone is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or have mental health problems.
People who come into the Soup Kitchen still continue to come and see us even through they may now have a property where once they were rough sleeping. We all think that a home and a roof over a person head is an answer to their problems. People can become isolated and lonely very easily. Family and friends relations are often fractured and broken due to addiction, or breakdown of relationships. When people sleep rough it can be quite a tight knit community so a house changes that. The Soup Kitchen not only provides food, it provides a social life for some and a listening ear. For some we are the only people they speak to each week.
When someone moves into a property and they still have friends who are rough sleeping this can cause feelings of guilt, frustration and anxiety. Cuckooing is always a risk and the more isolated a client becomes the more chance they have of suffering from issues that they have not had to deal with before. We encourage people to tell us how they are feeling, and we help where we can. Trust is a huge issue with people who sleep rough or who are homeless. We try to build relations so if necessary a person can feel they can trust us. We provide outreach to individuals who engage and who need a bit of handholding. This may include a visit to the doctors, going with someone to court, taking them to important appointments or support with a phone call.
Outreach and Advocacy is an important part of the Soup Kitchens week.
The Office of National Statistics have released the statistics of homeless deaths in England and Wales in the years 2013-2018
- There were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales registered in 2018, the highest year-to-year increase (22%) since our time series began.
- Most of the deaths in 2018 were among men (641 estimated deaths; 88% of the total).
- The mean age at death was 45 years for males and 43 years for females in 2018; in the general population of England and Wales, the mean age at death was 76 years for men and 81 years for women.
- Two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2018 (294 estimated deaths), and the number of deaths from this cause has increased by 55% since 2017.
- London and the North West had the highest numbers of deaths in 2018, with 148 (20% of the total number) and 103 (14% of the total number) estimated deaths of homeless people respectively.
- Statistician’s comment
“The deaths of 726 homeless people in England and Wales recorded in 2018 represent an increase of over a fifth on the previous year. That’s the largest rise since these figures began in 2013. More information can be read through the link below.
The figures in West Berkshire have gone down through the Collaborative work of The Council, Healthwatch West Berkshire, Housing First, West Berkshire Homeless, Two Saints, wonderful local companies and ourselves, who have housed individuals. However the numbers are continual and unfortunately new people find themselves homeless all the time. The winter months are looming and we need to prepare ourselves in order to be able to support people in this terrible position.
Homeless people need our support and the support of the Community ALL YEAR AROUND and not just for Christmas.
We have an Amazon Wish list and have financial donation Platforms through The Good Exchange where we are lucky enough to be receiving Match Funding, our website has easy links to donations too.
We will be with Swift at the wonderful community event Step up 4 Good on October 13th at Newbury Racecourse. There will be over 20 organisations at the event and many people signed up to compete in the many races from Family Mile, 3K and 10K. The Para Mile is sponsored by Swift and we will be with them with our Newbury Soup Kitchen Van raising money for the Soup Kitchen.
We’re excited to be trialling a new contactless donation solution from The Good Exchange at #stepup4good2019, Tap & donate just £3 to make a difference to #homeless in Newbury
Photo: The Good Exchange