We had 37 people in this evening. We provided meat based and vegetarian soup, Amatriciana (bacon and tomato pasta) and pineapple upside down cake with custard. Jan did a potato salad, which always goes down well. We have a few people who do not eat meat for cultural or ethical reasons so we always cater for them too. There was a vegetarian tomato pasta sauce just in case they came in.
It was a quiet start, one of our regular clients did comment how much nicer it was when it was not so busy. We have asked all the volunteers to be extra vigilant as we have been concerned that there has been drug dealing and shenanigans going on in the last week or so, we have no proof so we want to nip it in the bud just in case. This week however everyone was very well behaved and we had no issues at all. Meryl talked to everyone and warned them that we were watching their every move. We have no hesitation in calling the police and banning people, and they know that.
Many of the clients that come in, some every week without fail, some of which we have known now since we opened our doors, have drug issues. When you watch a person who has worked so hard and managing their script (drug substitute) for a period of time it is wonderful to see. However often, sadly for many reasons the addiction takes over all the hard work and people can start using again. The emotional turmoil that someone goes through is so distressing to see. A person with an addiction is very aware of the destruction it causes them and to the people around them. Drug addiction sucks in everyone: the user, family, friends, charities and statutory. Everyone has to pay a part in helping someone through but initially and continuously the hard work has to come from the user themselves.
Support For Addicts
A drug addict is entitled to the same confidential, non-judgemental NHS care as anyone else who has a health problem. The NHS and statutory organisations can still provide help and support to help an addict stay safe and healthy with needle exchanges and regular blood tests for instance.
Heroin is an opiate drug; the opiate drugs include codeine, opium and morphine. Codeine and morphine is usually on prescription but even these can be accessed if necessary. Treatment for addiction to heroin or another opiate drugs can be sourced from a GP or a local treatment service. In Newbury we have Swanswell. The staff there are wonderful and they support so many people.
Before treatment can be offered, treatment centres or a GP will need to ascertain certain facts:
– how much heroin does a person take
– whether a person is using drugs, alcohol or both
– a persons physical health and mental health is very important
– the personal circumstances of a person is very important are they homelessness? housed? and what is their general predicament?
– does a person have a history of addiction
It is common practice that a urine sample will be required and regular samples will be needed. This is to monitor a person’s usage or abstinence but it is also to keep a person safe. A drug substitute needs careful prescribing and monitored especially if a person is at risk of using along side. Unfortunately addicts are not always honest about their usage.
Someone receiving treatment will receive a key worker who will work out a treatment plan and arrange regular meetings.
There are a couple of different types of approaches to stopping heroin or an opiate addiction, this is maintenance therapy or a detox plan.
– Maintenance therapy – this allows you to switch from Heroin to a Heroin substitute, such as Methadone or Buprenorphine known as Subutex. You then stay on a stable dose of the substitute.
– Detox – this allows you to switch from Heroin to a Heroin substitute then gradually withdraw from the substitute so that you are completely free from both.
The aim of both treatments is to help a person who is addicted to withdraw from heroin gradually and ease the horrible withdrawal symptoms. Detox can take 3 months but that will work only without slip-ups. Someone can switch from a maintenance therapy regime to detox at any time but help and support is needed.
A daily dose of Methadone or Buprenorphine (Subutex) will be supervised by a drugs worker or pharmacist. It is common for people to struggle with detox and maintenance – this is where constant support is needed from professionals. Alcohol addiction and other drug addiction will, and can be, helped with also.
Detox lowers your tolerance to drugs such as Heroin. The danger with detox is that is someone has detoxed and starts using again their body cannot cope. A person often will go back to using the amounts of Heroin that they are used to using. This can cause an overdose and potentially death.
First Aid and Fundraising
New people often appear at the Soup Kitchen and this can change the dynamics within the homeless community. Trust and friendships are paramount as they are in every community. A new person has to build those relationships… at the same time they can cause problems within a close knit group of people. Depending on the reasons why they have found themselves rough sleeping drugs, alcohol, relationship break down, mental health or debt, it can influence the relationships they build and the problems that it can cause. At the Soup Kitchen we can stand back and can often see and witness these issues acting out and unravelling.
Every week someone comes in who needs support and possible First Aid attention. Our qualified First Aiders are always there to help someone if necessary. We have had to deal with Angina, Epilepsy, and Arrhythmia, along with old stubborn wounds, sprains, self-harming, results of altercations to a cut finger. We are always prepared and always have at least one fully qualified First Aider on site. We are looking for another First Aider to compliment our team; we would like to have at least two qualified First Aiders each session. Volunteer with us HERE
Newbury Soup Kitchen have a project on The Good Exchange – we are very happy to tell you that Greenham Trust have offered Match Funding on any donation up to £5,000. This project is towards for Running Costs of Newbury Soup Kitchen 2019 an expansion into a Community Support Centre. Please have a look and see what you think. Thank you.