New Year At Newbury Soup Kitchen

We had 44 people in this evening, originally we thought it was going to be quiet but it picked up quickly. 

The atmosphere was lovely, everyone still in the festive and New Year spirit. This was the first week we have opened since out wonderful Christmas party that was enjoyed by so many. 

For this week we had a Bolognese sauce (6kg of mince) that was served with jacket potatoes. The Cream of Vegetable Soup was made by The Vineyard Hotel and Spa for Christmas morning which we kept and froze as there was lots left over. The bolognese sauce and jackets were accompanied by roast parsnips and sprouts with bacon both of which were very popular. The dessert was sticky toffee pudding with custard, John Lewis donated the puddings. 

Sue our Foot Specialist came in and helped five clients with their feet. Not something that many people want to help with but Sue is kind, caring and compassionate. We hear lots of laughter coming from the room and she puts everyone at ease. Foot problems blight so many people’s everyday lives.  Foot care is very expensive and not accessible to our clients so this service is invaluable. The lovely thing is that Sue can establish relationships and work of people’s feet overtime to hopefully get rid of long term niggly foot issues. 

Throughout the winter months not only do we help our clients who come in to keep warm we try to help their furry friends too. We have been fortunate enough to receive some donations from The Dogs Trust Hope for Dogs Project and the local community. This little chap came in and had a bowl of milk and a nice new winter coat. 

When we walk past people sitting in shop doorways or sleeping rough we will usually assume they the local authority or local charities are not helping them. There are many reasons why people choose to stay outside throughout the day or at worse over night.


We wish to emphasise that certain things act together to create pressure on a person. Some push factors will be enough on their own to cause a person to leave or go back out on to the streets. Other factors will have a small effect on their own, but grow and multiply over time to have a bigger impact that causes a persons decision making. Many people experience more than one push factor either all at the same time or on different occasions causing decisions that is not deemed “normal behaviour”.



  • Being evicted for rent arrears or for antisocial behaviour, leaving temporary shelters when they close with nowhere else to move into.  
  • Being asked to leave after relationship breakdown, divorce, death of parent (Purchase of home by third party) or relationship breakdown. 
  • Leaving prison after a sentence or being held on remand.
  • Leaving accommodation because it didn’t meet needs (no couples, no pets) or was poor quality or makes a person feel fearful. 
  • Leaving because of noise or anti-social behaviour, or excessive rules and regulations.
  • Leaving informal accommodation such as sofa- surfing this can be  because of being asked to leave or feeling like a burden in someone else’s house. 
  • Leaving accommodation because of isolation and loneliness.
  • Escaping criminal victimisation (e.g. abuse or cuckooing).

Although rough sleeping is dangerous and unpleasant, there are nonetheless things which draw people back. 

Pull factors we have talked about can be as follows: 

  • Feeling competent in survival (compared to feeling incompetent managing a tenancy). Fear of the commitment of bills and everyday chores. 
  • Knowing how to meet their basic needs.
  • Feeling ‘addicted’ to the streets.
  • Freedom of living life free from rule and structure. 


Life on the streets is busy and interesting, living with a roof over your head can be boring or extremely lonely. 

  • Having people around (other rough sleepers, and members of the public showing care is something a person gets used to and mainly feels safe with. 
  • Being pulled back to dangerous/abusive relationships.

When push factors and pull factors work together, it can cause an irresistible pressure on someone, causing them to choose to return to rough sleeping, or seeing no alternative when another crisis comes along.


Not until these factors are recognised and over a long time worked with can a person establish the emotional and physical strength to change their circumstances that are so often comfortable and familiar to them. Some people never manage to change their pattern of lifestyle therefore we have to work with them in any way we can to help. 


From January Newbury Soup Kitchen has been given the opportunity to give out £10 food vouchers for Greggs Bakery at 77 Northbrook Street Newbury to rough sleepers. These vouchers have been donated by Newbury Christadelphinians from Lower Way Thatcham. 
The Christadelphinians support Newbury Soup Kitchen throughout the year with other projects and donations. Meryl Praill the founder of Newbury Soup Kitchen “Acts of kindness from organisations and groups such as Newbury Christadelphinians makes such a difference to people who are in desperate need in our area. With the colder weather no doubt approaching as we move into January and February these vouchers will give a bit more flexibility for someone in need of a hot drink or hot meal outside our usual meal sessions or other charities who open throughout the week. 

Matthew Groves who is the manager of the Greggs Store supports Newbury Soup Kitchen every week organising food donations for our sessions, he always goes above and beyond his role as manager to help where he can. It is almost as if he has adopted Newbury Soup Kitchen and always checks in to see what he can do to help us”.

Now Christmas is over and we look forward to a new year it is important to remember that Homelessness is not just for Christmas and the works continues all year around to help make people’s lives more bearable and to help them move forward in a positive direction.

We would like to say thank you for all the donations we have received over the festive period. We will continue to require help all year around, this can be done through The Good Exchange, Newbury Soup Kitchen Facebook page donation points and our Just Giving page. Please do not be confused by HAVEN (West Berkshire) on the Just Giving site. HAVEN is our charity set up in order to expand into a Community Support Centre once we procure a building of our own. Newbury Soup Kitchen is a division of this charity. 1179298 and will continue as usual when the building is set up.