Newbury Soup Kitchen and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

We had 47 people in even though it seemed more, it was a busy session so some of us didn’t get to sit down and chat to the clients that much as there were lots of issues to deal with in the two hour period. 

A few faces that we had not seen for a while came in which was lovely. One client who we have known for two and a half years now came in to say hello. They are looking really well, especially since living somewhere different and staying away from people who still use.  West Berkshire as it stands mainly has its statutory drug and alcohol support services in Newbury so people have no choice but to come back to the area for support.  This can cause anxiety and stress in itself.

We often witness people who are known users encourage people back into making bad decisions. Any addict would rather spend time with like-minded people. Breaking that bond, which is often a friend, is very hard. 
The difficulty with people who are rough sleeping or who are addicted to drugs and alcohol may have fractured relationships with friends and family. They come to Newbury Soup Kitchen for support and a safe non-judgemental environment. 

People who are rough sleeping often leave the area for a bit then come back to see us.  We build strong bonds with our clients and worry about them when they are out of the area that they are safe. We were very humbled in this session that one of our clients came back and said how much he had missed our support and how different Newbury Soup Kitchen is to other equivalent organisations that he had visited. He had often thought about us and had missed the friendship and caring environment that the volunteers provide. Volunteering in an environment such as ours allows us to meet and get to know wonderful people; people who are not at all like the dreadful perception of a dug addict or alcoholic that so many people have.

Someone who we knew when they were sleeping rough said this week that Newbury Soup Kitchen is an “important part of his week”. People come back to see us even when they are housed and have moved on. We love that. 


We have put a basic freezer for a client on our Amazon Wish list along with an updated list of everything we require to support people who are still sleeping rough and for new people who find them selves homeless. Winter is around the corner, many wonderful people like to donate and volunteer for the Festive Season. Support is important throughout the year; we require help and donations continuously. Homeless people are homeless all year not just for Christmas. We are still in the fortunate position to be receiving Match Funding through our project on The Good Exchange £1 for £1 plus Gift Aid which helps us provide outreach and training along with the flexibility to expand the services we provide. 

We have to be on our guard all the time. 

At opening time a family appeared and tried to bring their newborn baby into the Soup Kitchen to find someone who had just gone into the hall. For Safeguarding reasons this is absolutely not allowed, we refused entry, which unfortunately did not go down well. There are often historical issues between the people who use The Soup Kitchen so volunteers had to step in and ask the family to leave the area and take their baby home, as this was not an appropriate place to have a baby.  It took the expertise of the trained volunteers to deescalate the situation, which they did beautifully. Every week we have to be prepared for any and every eventuality. 

Emma, our Community dental nurse came in for the whole session to sit and talk to the clients. I’m hoping they will be more likely to use the services now they see she does not have horns, a tail and breathes fire. Many people are terrified of dentists so do not reach out for the treatment they so desperately need. We hope that the outreach services such as the Community Dentists and HOLT nurses can build relationships by coming in to the sessions occasionally on a volunteer basis for a informal chat and cup of tea to work alongside the sessions they hold on alternate Thursdays at 4pm.  Due to lack of space and their contracted working hours they are not usually able to come in the actual Soup Kitchen session in the evenings to provide care. We are working hard to remedy this. We are still waiting on a building to allow us to expand our services to be open all week. This will be under our charity HAVEN (West Berkshire) – of which Newbury Soup Kitchen is a division. 

Next week the HOLT nurses will be at the Salvation Army Hall at 4pm. 

We gave out quite a few tents tonight. A few new people came in who have found themselves homeless. They are all aware that the weather is changing and that is frightening for many. Some people have COPD, which will be challenging during the winter months living outside. 

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.  Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Smoking is also a trigger for COPD flare-ups. Smoking damages the air sacs, airways, and the lining of your lungs. Injured lungs have trouble moving enough air in and out, so it’s hard to breathe. Many of our clients suffer with COPD through smoking. 

It is thought that about 5% of homeless people have a diagnosis of COPD, compared to less than 2% of the general UK population. They’re twice as likely to have asthma, and 5 times as likely to smoke. It is also thought that the longer someone had been homeless, the more likely they were to have breathing problems.

COPD is a progressive and (currently) incurable disease.

Symptoms of COPD can be different for each person, but common symptoms are:

  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Frequent coughing (with and without mucus)
  • Increased breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest

Sometimes we have people come in to see us upset as they have received an eviction notice. When people are in arrears with their rent and are on certain benefits they can get legal aid.  We signpost people in his situation to firm of solicitors who can support people in this terrifying situation and give them a voice and legal knowledge to help them with their case. This firm have helped us on many occasions with clients successfully. If eligible they will provide help for people on benefits for evictions, housing, debt and anti social behaviour injunctions.  It is great that we have the contact to be able to signpost our clients for this help. 

The kitchen was very busy tonight. We provided hotdogs with a Danish spin, tuna pasta bake, potato wedges, potato salad with eggs finishing with rhubarb and apple crumble with custard. All of the food was eaten. 

As the winter months are looming we are looking for more support with cooking and kitchen help. If you are a good basic home cook and enjoy cooking food this may be for you. Any volunteer will need to complete an online Food Hygiene level 2 Qualification, which we can organise. Please contact us on The kitchen volunteers are a great team of people who just muck in serve beautiful freshly cooked meals each week in a rota basis. 


Thank you for all your support. We cannot do the work that we do without the dedication of volunteers, donations of goods from our Wish list and cash donations, which are always vital. If we pull together as a community surely we can all make a difference to people who are less fortunate than others.