We welcomed 42 clients through the door tonight including five or six new people. We really enjoyed the session this evening. There were no incidents and it was genuinely a great atmosphere.
One man came in as he was passing through Newbury on “his travels”. He explained that he moved all around the country. This meant he did not get caught up in others peoples troubles and issues. He didn’t want any bedding or amenities and happily sat and read the paper and had a meal. At the end of the session he came up to me and said that he had been recommended to come and see us. He also said:
“Meryl, what you have here is special. I’ve travelled all around the country for a long time and visited lots of soup kitchens. You have achieved something very special. You all should be very proud. Thank you, you have made me feel very welcome.”
He shook my hand and left. That’s why we all do this! I was very touched by his words.
This Week’s Menu
For the first time we provided tuna on the menu, it went down a storm. One chap even asked to take some extra home with him. I think tuna pasta will have to be a regular.
We also cooked Amatriciana, a bacon and tomato dish. Again it all went both were served with pasta. A few people actually asked for the recipe!
The ladies in the kitchen worked very hard but enjoyed the evening. We love to see our food appreciated and so much consumed in one sitting, this week everything went.
We had a fair amount of Pret and Greggs donated and that all went too. It is incredible how much food is available to us each week, all donated from various food establishments, supermarkets and the West Berkshire Foodbank who supply our tinned goods. We are grateful to everyone.
We were visited by a young 18 and 19 year old couple this week. They sat alone, one of our more experienced volunteers did try to talk to them but they were not interested in chatting. Hopefully they will come in next week, then we can try again.
New To The Area And Comradeship
There was another new lad too. He is in his twenties all alone. We introduced him to one of our long term homeless who has invited him to camp near them by the canal. For rough sleepers it is important that they stick together for safety. The camp all get on well and will keep an eye out for him as they do know for each other.
He had a good meal. We gave him a tent, sleeping bag, flask and various other amenities. He was shocked at how kind we were. We will get to know him and hopefully start to work with him and try to help him over the next few weeks.
Eviction Notice And Legal Aid
We have a solicitor who will help us with clients who have an eviction notice and other legal issues. One of our regulars came in this evening and unfortunately this person has an eviction notice. We talked about engaging with organisations to show the court that they were working hard to “turn their life around” as all these things will help with the case and hopefully prevent the eviction.
This person has been in the same house 22 years. Becoming homeless is not going to help anyone, so regardless I hope the solicitor can do something. We do need another solicitor to support us on legal aid and on a voluntary basis as many people have issues that we do not have the knowledge and experience of.
Cooking Facilities At Home
We mentioned last week that another of our clients had no form of cooking facilities. He works as a cleaner and has his own flat that he rents. We gave him today a new double ring electric table top hob that had been purchased from our Amazon wish list from a kind member of the public. He was so happy but assured me he would still be coming on a Thursday for a meal as he liked it so much.
Suncream Supplies Needed
We have had some hot sunny days recently. Our rough sleepers struggle with sunburn. They are unable to sit in their tents when it is very sunny as they can become unbearably hot inside. We have had people coming in with sunburn. As the weather improves, we are looking please for donations of suncream. They can be dropped off at the Co-op on Brummell Road, Speen or at the Soup Kitchen on a Thursday from 4.30pm. We have a food collection box at the Co-op. The staff are amazing and support us so much, donations can be put in there.
Mental Health Issues
This week we have heard that some of our clients have really been struggling, mental health affects people in so many ways. People will often self harm or even try to attempt suicide. Sometimes people drink or take drugs to block out feelings and voices. This in itself can cause antisocial behaviour or aggression be it verbal or threatening. Every week we meet people who are really sad and hurting. Sitting with someone who feels so low, at rock bottom, is such an important thing to do. Our clients are normal people who have for one reason or another have hit rock bottom. Listening and just being there helps build trust. We work very hard to help how and where we can with outreach and time.
Social Club Atmosphere
The volunteers were very busy last night but we all have a great time. The atmosphere was great and the room just felt like a social club. Clients playing cards and games, eating a healthy meal and chatting to friends. A great evening. If we can help people feel happier then we have done what we set out to achieve.