New Clients, Alcoholism & Events We Attended

Despite the dreadful rainy weather we had 47 people through the door today. Many of us felt that there was a bit of underlying tension at times.
On the menu tonight was cream of curried parsnip soup (plus a vegan version), salmon pasta bake, potato salad, blueberry and apple crumble with custard – and Jan’s famous banana bread!

Meryl did make too much pasta, it is difficult to gauge and know for sure how many people are going to turn up.  We did have some left over so a volunteer took it to the night shelter along with a bit of remaining soup. It all went down very well. Jan is away so Meryl cooked it all throughout the day. Jan’s banana bread was eyed up by a new guest, who has been sleeping rough in the town. He liked it so much he asked if he could take the remaining away with him. 

This new guest did help defuse an issue between two people also that was starting to bubble.  One man was being verbally aggressive towards another person who responded by goading back. Meryl stepped in to defuse it and he also helped. He stated very clearly that it was “inappropriate behaviour” and the aggressor should have more respect. It tends to be a few people that lack “a filter” but we will ask people to leave if necessary. 

One of our clients, who we have known since he was a rough sleeper, came in for a meal and some food. Each week we give out any remaining supermarket donations that we have been unable to use ourselves. We also give food to Mencap next-door, The Foodbank and Two Saints. He has just moved into a flat of his own and very proud. We gave him some bedding, as the items he had did not fit his bed properly.  He was very cheerful as he is in a flat of his own now and somewhere safe to lay his head. It is lovely to see people transition from rough sleeping to accommodation. This is usually done through the Hostel system. People have to prove they can pay their rent, stick to the rules, and keep their head down and not cause any issues with the other residents staying there. He had his hair cut as he had an appointment to go to in the morning. One happy customer – that is why we do what we do: building relationships, trust and turning it into positive outcomes. It is wonderful for us to see people turn their situation around, making better decisions, and moving on with their lives in a positive manner. 

Berkshire Women’s Aid is working closely with us so we can signpost our most vulnerable women to them. Julie will take women to appointments; help with housing and endeavour to make their lives safer and more stable. It builds confidence in women to have their own voice and make their own decisions. Empowerment for people who have lost the ability for choice and safety is a way to build the confidence to break away from the shackles of domestic abuse, drug addiction, homelessness or housing difficulties, debt, offending and unemployment.  Very quickly we have seen the confidence in women regaining decision making and seeing a more positive future if they want it. 

Pitch To The Panel & Alcoholism

Pitch To The Panel

This week we went to Pitch to the Panel in the Corn Exchange, funded by Greenham Trust. Six finalists had to do a Dragons Den type bid for £100,000 or part thereof. Three people won a share including The League of Friends at West Berkshire Hospital.  

A doctor and specialist from the hospital explained about fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease means you have extra fat in your liver. You might hear your doctor call it hepatic steatosis.

Alcoholism is very common with many of our clients.  We find it very distressing to see how the symptoms of alcohol cause such destruction to the body. 

Heavy drinking makes you more likely to get fatty liver disease. Over time, too much alcohol leads to a build-up of fat inside your liver cells. This makes it harder for your liver to work.

However a person can get fatty liver disease even if they don’t drink a lot of alcohol. Fatty liver disease is large contributor to the mortality rates of the world. The mortality rate of someone who “bleeds out” when a liver ruptures is 50-70% there is usually no symptoms before this. The scanner is a way to highlight problems and potentially save a life when there is no other way to diagnose it effectively.  They were awarded money to buy a mobile liver scanner. Hopefully this scanner will be in use and will be taken to Swanswell, which is our local drug and alcohol rehabilitation service. 

It is so difficult to see some of our clients deteriorate due to alcohol abuse, the colour of their skin, their eyes turning yellow and sometimes they do not engage with services to help them stop drinking. Alcohol is the only addictive substance that can actually kill through Delirium Tremens (DT’s). If the symptoms go untreated, 10% to 15% of these patients progress to withdrawal seizures. Delirium tremens is the last stage of alcohol withdrawal; it occurs in 5% to 10% of alcohol-dependent individuals, with a mortality rate of 5% to 15% when left untreated. A heavy drinker must never stop immediately; it must be achieved through care and guidance from professionals. 


Some of our volunteers spent a day collecting money at Sainsbury’s this week. The public were very generous and interested in the work we are doing. One of our volunteers even took the afternoon off work to support us. Meryl is constantly humbled by the support and dedication the volunteers give to the Soup Kitchen and the clients we help. 

Fundraising is very important for us to continue with our work, expansion and enabling us to train our volunteers and give our clients the best possible support we can. Greenham Trust are still match funding £1 for £1 any donations that go through The Good Exchange to our project. If you are a UK taxpayer Gift Aid on top can make a donation of £25 be worth to us £56.25. Gift Aid is 25p in every £1 donated. 

Our Amazon Wish list is still on our website, we update it regularly to show items we need. However items can be dropped off at the hall between 4.30-5.30pm. At the moment we are in desperate need of Lycra type boxer shorts SMALL, MEDIUM and LARGE. We struggled this week to honour requests. You can contact us through if you would like to make other donation drop off arrangements. Thank you. 

This week we have seen some people with positive stories and positive futures if they chose to continue on the path they are on. We will be there as a safety net should they fall. The Soup Kitchen is a happy place, which rarely has an incident that needs intervention.  People who come every week enjoy the friendships and banter. It is the main social event of some people’s week.