Our weekly update & COVID sessions

This week we had home-made pizzas made by one of our wonderful volunteers who has been cooking for us throughout lockdown.

There were 38, hand made with the ingredients donated from Sainsburys Newbury pizza stall that has recently closed. He used part of our stocks of mozzarella peals along with chicken and ham pieces. Rob must be mad, but he has offered to cook them again as they were a huge hit. 

One of our clients said that they had not had home-made pizza before, and they enjoyed them enormously. The Pizza boxes were courtesy of Pizza Express in the Market Place who donated 50 boxes.

We have a new gazebo which is 6m x 3m for outside the hall for the pending winter months. Due to COVID we are unable to hold our sessions inside so have had to adapt which means continuing with a takeaway service from the door. It was quite expensive, so it was put together carefully with the canopy. 

To ensure it did not break while putting it away it took six people. 

We have purchased two new heavy-duty gazebos for Thursday and Saturdays one for outside the hall and a smaller red one for Kate to cut hair under on a Thursday also. We have decided to purchase heavy duty ones hopefully to stop them being easily broken. Unfortunately, the cheaper ones break very easily with one gust of wind or snap on putting them away, especially in wind and rain. Again, it is not ideal having to be out in wind and rain, but this will be the case until we are able to find a building of our own and COVID is no longer an issue that people have to social distance. We will be able to commence our sessions inside the building once the virus is under control or we have a vaccine. 

We had 36 people this week, the word is getting around that we are open again. The numbers are increasing every week. The new gazebo made the session look very welcoming. 

Meryl arrived late as she had been in Crown Court all week supporting a client. Walking down the alleyway from the high street she said how welcoming the Soup Kitchen looked with the food, lights and gazebo. After a stressful week it definitely cheered her up. 

The outreach provided by Newbury Soup Kitchen is very important to us. We know our clients benefit and at difficult times in their lives it is good to know they have support. Court appearances for anyone is extremely upsetting regardless of the outcome so we are glad we can be there.

A few old faces this week, it is lovely when people pop down to say hello. Seeing clients who are settled in their tenancies and no longer rough sleeping, getting on with their lives and seemingly more settled and happier is wonderful. Having a roof over your head is not the only answer to a person’s problems, but it is the start of stability in their lives and with the feeling of safety and security people can begin to engage and get the tailored help they need.

Amanda (HOLT), Meryl (Newbury Soup Kitchen Founder) and Alex the Officer from the Salvation Army are working on getting the HOLT sessions up and running again soon within the Salvation Army Hall. For those of you who do not know HOLT they are the Community Nurses from Reading, Health Outreach Liaison Team. We have to organise risk assessments etc but hopeful this can start again soon.  Having the Community nurses available to us during the week is invaluable. Many of our clients do not like to go to a doctor’s surgery as they feel conscious of their appearance especially if they are living chaotic lives or rough sleeping. Some people who suffer with Mental Health issues often find it hard being around lots of people and organising appointments. A drop-in service works much better for many and it is a good way for the nurses to give ongoing support and treatment in a more relaxed environment.

We have a few new volunteers starting as we did lose a few of our team over COVID for many reasons. We now have stopped recruiting again and hope now we do not need to recruit anyone for a long while.

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

We appreciate your patience with us too, especially from the noise and sometimes incidents that occur on a Thursday in Northcroft Lane during the sessions. We will work with our clients to keep these to a minimum. 

We try and say thank you personally to donations as much as we can, but we would like to say THANK YOU for all the support you give us, without the help and patience from the Community we cannot do what we do.