UPDATE 8th May 2022
Jane has setup a GoFundMe page for her campaign, to donate please click the button
My name is Jane and I recently started volunteering for the Newbury Soup Kitchen.
Founded by Meryl Praill, Newbury Soup Kitchen strives to help people by providing a broad spectrum of healthy food provision and outreach to care for those in need in Newbury and West Berkshire.
This is catered around the whole person: physically, emotionally and socially. We spend time with people who need support, encouragement and empathy helping to improve their situation and future. We support our clients to gain trust, building relationships that encourage growth in confidence thus enabling individuals to make better life decisions. Our team of volunteers and our outreach workers tirelessly commit to giving vulnerable people in our society the help they require to find their voice.
It is very important to us that everyone is treated with respect, kindness and treated as equals, not often experienced by many of our clients in their everyday lives.
We love our work and are committed to striving forward to help more and more with homeless prevention as well as work with homeless individuals and people generally struggling to cope with day to day problems.
Our long-term goal is to open a community support centre, to have a one-stop shop with all-round collaborative services from statutory and charities.
Many of our clients struggle with addiction and I have decided to take the challenge and go alcohol free for a year in order to help raise awareness of addiction and to raise money, to help the Soup Kitchen get some, much needed funds.
I have a very personal reason for doing this.
Two years ago, on the 21st April 2020, my lovely brother Michael died in very sudden and shocking circumstances as a result of his many addictions, mainly alcohol. On the outside he looked very healthy, a good 15 years younger. He was kind and intelligent, a loving uncle and dad to his two sons, sadly even they were not enough for him to break the grip of his addiction.
Michael had advanced liver disease, which resulted in ‘bleeding oesophageal varices’. It is a life-threatening condition, which means that, due to a blockage in the main portal vein which leads to the liver, the blood flow has to be rerouted via much smaller, weaker veins. Under pressure these can rupture which results in stomach bleeding and vomiting vast amounts of blood. This needs immediate treatment – banding -to stop the bleeding and a blood transfusion to replace the blood loss. Giving up alcohol is essential to reduce the risk. Unfortunately, Michael was unable to do this and in the last two years of his life he had at least nine emergency blood transfusions.
Finally, the blood loss was too great and although it looked like he had been stabilised, he went into shock and sadly died in hospital, on his own. This was a month into the first Lockdown and so we were not able to see him or have a proper funeral for him.
Addiction affects so many people, not just the addicts themselves but family and friends who end up feeling frustrated and helpless, unable to do anything to protect them. It pains me to say this, but when my brother died my initial feeling and those very close to him, was one of relief. Just a sense that the pain and loneliness of his alcoholism had ceased.
Of course, that feeling doesn’t last long as the absolute finality of death and losing a loved one creeps in and you realise that you will never see that person again and then relief is replaced by the guilt that you could have done more to save them.
Giving up alcohol is hard, and it is particularly challenging for people living on the edge of society. I’m doing this to support them and because every time 21st April comes around, I don’t want to, once again be examining my own drinking. I want to be accountable, to understand the struggles and support others taking similar steps. I want to share my journey, offer some insights along the way and raise money for an excellent charity
Donations can be made directly to the Soup Kitchen.
You can make a one-off donation or a small amount for each month I stay alcohol free, whatever you feel is most suitable. I’m also on Instagram at Jane_herod_soberme
I start my challenge on the 1st May and I look forward to embracing a year of sobriety. If anyone feels the urge to join me then please let me know. Anyone can join me at anytime along my journey if they want to.