Newbury Soup Kitchen Outreach & What Is Cuckooing?

This week we had lasagne, which came with garlic bread, lovely creamy coleslaw put together by Carrie in the kitchen. We had a vegetarian pasta dish, and apple and plum crumble with custard. 39 people came through the door for food so it was quieter than some sessions. 

Working as we do every week with people who can be at the lowest point of their lives can be very difficult. We help to hold their hands to give support, guidance, signposting, outreach, sometimes first aid and friendship. Some weeks we feel we are getting nowhere and sometimes we are filled with pride and happiness to see a person become happier, more settled and making better decisions in order to make their future easier, less chaotic or the best that they can be. We must all remember that people’s goals and happiness is not necessarily what we would choose for ourselves, but it is their life journey with both the rough and the smooth. We do not judge but we do sit and listen try to be there when they need us in order to help where we can and do the best we can to help them. 

The outreach is provided by Meryl at the Soup Kitchen and the amazing teams of people such as the HOLT Nurses, Community Dentists, Community Police who volunteer and come in when they are on duty, the Soup Kitchen First Aid team, not to forget our Hairdresser and Foot Care Specialist. Together we help wrap our arms around individuals who are in need of protection and care to ensure their health and general requirements are met especially when rough sleeping. 

Our volunteers work tirelessly every week to gain trust and provide a kind listening ear, building a relationship built on trust and mutual respect that we see every week. The food that is cooked each week comes from the donations of food from local supermarkets and our wonderful kitchen staff work their magic to provide healthy nutritious meals. 

The Soup Kitchen collaborates with local charities and statutory organisations as we all work together to support each other, we often overlap with clients so a one-hand approach is usually not enough. Reducing Homelessness in West Berkshire has to be a priority and keeping our finger on the pulse to carry on with this is paramount. The numbers have gone down as a result of a big push from the Statutory and Charitable sectors but we must keep going. A new person appears on the streets all the time. Street Link is a way to alert Statutory and local services to the plight of a rough sleeper over 18 years of age. 

Outreach workers from Two Saints go and visit known rough sleepers every week, throughout the week so it is important for the community to be aware of new people coming onto the streets. Together we can support people who are homeless be it sofa surfing, rough sleeping, in Hostels or at risk of becoming homeless. 

Donations through The Good Exchange help us facilitate all the work we do. At the moment we are receiving Match Funding, this means it will double your donation. Look out also for our collection boxes around the town in The FlowerPot Café, and in The Globe Pub, and Hare and Hounds Hotel. We are looking for other locations to put our charity boxes too. 

We had a man in tonight who is no longer rough sleeping. He has a wonderful new flat organised by West Berkshire Homeless and Meryl from the Soup Kitchen organised furniture through Community Furniture Project. We all work together to get a job done using the contacts we have.  

Some of the more entrenched rough sleepers need much more support when it comes to finding accommodation. Many Landlords are nervous and reluctant to take on a person who has been rough sleeping or homeless. Universal Credit is paid directly to the tenant and this then must be paid onto the Landlord. In special circumstances such as Housing First this can be managed so the tenant is not involved in this transaction. It elevates stress and anxiety about paying bills, which will be organised for them. Moving from the streets to a home is extremely daunting; anything that can be done to help someone to feel happy in their new home is paramount. 

It is clear that a person needs to feel safe, happy and supported when moving into a property from the streets. Only then will they thrive and be able to start recovery and begin to make better decisions about their lifestyle and hopefully start the hard road to a better more positive future. 

Together Statutory and charitable organisations will work together and keep vulnerable people safe in their new homes. Some people are at great risk from Cuckooing.

What is Cuckooing?

Cuckooing is a practice where people take over a person’s home and use the property to facilitate exploitation. The most common form of cuckooing is where drug dealers take over a person’s home and use it to store or distribute drugs.

Drug dealers will often target the most vulnerable in society. They are seeking to establish relationships to access the vulnerable person’s home.

Once they gain control over the victim whether through drug dependency, debt or as part of their relationship this is when larger groups will sometimes move in.

The threat of violence is often used to control the victim. It is common for the drug dealers to have access to several cuckooed addresses at once, and to move quickly between them to evade detection.

The victims of cuckooing are most commonly class A drug users, but there are cases of victims with learning difficulties, mental health issues and, to a lesser extent, physical disabilities.

We have found some voluntary work for a client who lives in statutory accommodation. No longer rough sleeping either, desperate to learn a new skill and prepared to work alongside someone to develop them. Often people who have chaotic lives struggle with chronic boredom. Being bored and lonely gives a person plenty of time to think about things that cause anxiety, depression and stress. A practical skill that uses both hands uses both sides of the brain and keeps a person completely occupied. This in itself elevates stress and gives a wonderful sense of achievement that can build self-esteem. We are so pleased to see the excitement with this client. Again we will support them with any bumps in the road that may occur along the way to hopefully gain a qualification in the future. 

We are still looking for a FIRST AID volunteer to join our team. Please contact us on