Our Building, COVID, and Needed Support

It’s been an exciting but tiring week. The kitchen is coming along now and gaining momentum. 

A wonderful inspector from Food Standard Agency came to do a pre installation inspection for us as we wanted to make sure everything, we were doing was according to Food Standard regulations. The kitchen when completed will have to registered and inspected to gain a rating. This is up to 5, We are used to this has we have had the kitchen inspected on our behalf before at the Salvation Army, in that instance we gain the top rating. It is important for us to do that again.  One issue he did pick up though which we hadn’t even thought of was that the floor in our ambient storeroom needs to have a Lino on the floor. Mai-Britt emptied the room the next morning and the link was installed the day after. It looks so much better and more practical than we had.

Poor Sandra had only just got that room straight and a good system in place. She has clearly dated every item so we can see the best before dates to ensure nothing goes to waste. Now she just has to put it all back. 

There has been a huge change in the intended kitchen space to date. The stud wall is finished, and the first phase of the electrics have been done for free by Newbury Electrical Services who will come back to finish off when we are ready. 

The plumber is coming in this week and Thatcham Plasterers who again are offering their time for free are coming in to plaster our new stud wall. Flooring will be ordered this week and fire and heat alarms installed in the kitchen and other rooms in our unit. 

Everything is coming together, and we hope to have everything done by the end of November. 


We had 30 people come to us for food on Thursday. It was an evening that ran smoothly and a lovely atmosphere. On the menu was tuna pasta and for dessert we had home-made banana cake with a citrus cream. 

Even though it was a lovely evening it was a distressing one. A new rough sleeper came in still in his work clothes. He had been in the same clothes since Monday. As so often he felt ashamed and doing his best to keep his job going even though he was rough sleeping. Not all rough sleepers are without work. People lose their accommodation for a huge variety of reasons. We put him in b&b and will be working with other organisations to find him some accommodation. This man was broken, at rock bottom, at least we were able to act quickly to get him off the streets and give him home that his situation would improve.  

Kate came in and cut 4 people’s hair. The new lights we had purchased were not quite bright enough once it was dark. With the clocks change this will be a bigger problem so we will be purchasing some much brighter lights.

Permission has been granted for this photograph to go on social media.

Meryl was invited on to Kennet Radio with Chris Boulton her interview is below where she talks about the work, what we are doing to date to help the homeless, rough sleepers and people locally in need. CLICK HERE

Homeless people are facing a “double threat” with the second wave of coronavirus and cold weather this winter which could see more deaths.

There has been a coalition of 17 health and homeless organisations including Crisis, St Mungo’s and several royal colleges who are voicing huge concern that homeless people cannot be forced to make decisions of using communal night shelters where social distancing is all but impossible rather than stay out and socially distance in the freezing cold and wet. Communal spaces provided for ‘pop up’ night shelters and spaces put in place for emergency cold weather accommodation will not successfully manage the social distancing requirements needed to keep people safe this winter. The risk of Coronavirus transmission in this sort of environment will be incredibly high.

There has been calls for the continuation of the “Everybody in” approach with accommodating people from the streets to keep them safe which has been so successful since March 2020. Almost 15,000 homeless people in England were moved into safe emergency accommodation such as hotels and B&B’s at the start of the Pandemic.

The University College London study warned relaxing measures in homeless settings could lead to more than 12,000 new infections, 184 deaths and 733 hospital admissions, even without a second wave.

Incredible efforts from local charities, statutory organisations and Government funding put together to support homeless people during the first phase of the pandemic has been truly lifesaving. As a second wave of COVID 19 is biting at our heels these steps need to put in place again. “If someone becomes unwell in a day centre, and they do not have a home or room in which to self-isolate, they should be isolated temporarily in an area of the day centre and staff are advised to contact the local authorities”. Homeless people, many of which have underlying health conditions and poor sanitisation are more vulnerable than they often think.

One rough sleeper said to us that “Drinking out of bottles you find on the floor or in bins or rummaging through rubbish to find food is a proof we have good immunity from the virus” we are like alley cats tough and resilient” – Unfortunately this is not deemed to be the case.

Charities who are usually the organisations that run night shelters and day centres say that this will not be enough this winter. Individual spaces such as the ones provided in the ‘Everyone In’ scheme that has been so successful in helping individuals in immediate need is the only way. Putting a roof over their head in an individual hotel room or b&b for safety is the only answer this winter to keep them safe. 

In order to keep people who, find themselves homeless are especially vulnerable and at risk during this time. 

We have updated our Amazon Wishlist https://amzn.to/2fYwyJz which has items that we use every week for the sessions and also items such as tents and sleeping bags that will help support rough sleepers throughout the winter. With items such as this we are also able to support the council and hostel outreach workers who can come to our new unit and help themselves to anything, they need for vulnerable people we all work with. Collaboration is key and now we have storage and facilities in one place we can do this more effectively.  Your donations matter and make a difference to people’s lives. 

Our project on The Good Exchange is an easy way to donate https://app.thegoodexchange.com/project/18016 on this also you can read up about us a bit more.

Facebook has a donation button which is at the top of this link and you can reach our Just Giving donation page here.  http://www.justgiving.com/haven-westberkshire

Thank you for reading our weekly blog and supporting Newbury Soup Kitchen.