Photo ID’s And Birth Certificates

After having a shortage of six people last week we had a full quota of volunteers this evening, plus a few extra. Lucky really as we had 47 clients again this evening. I cannot believe we are now so busy these days. When we started the Soup Kitchen just 16 months ago, we were really pleased with 15-20 people.

On The Menu This Evening

Good to have Jan back. She cooked a wonderful Lasagne, feedback was very good. One of the staff from Tesco Metro came in with lots of four pint bottles of milk and two large tubs of potato salad. The potato salad went down extremely well it’s another good side dish to have on the menu as we often get potatoes given to us.

A Little Confrontation

Within about fifteen minutes of us opening we had a disagreement between two service users. It is very rare is that there is a lot of shouting. We diffused the issue by taking one person outside. We talk a lot to service users in the Soup Kitchen about consequences and actions. People shouting outside is not good for the local community and often confirms people’s perception that our vulnerable are always difficult, which is absolutely not the case. The homeless and vulnerable community in Newbury and West Berkshire who use the voluntary services are very close, look out for each other but inevitably fall out at times. We talked to both parties and diffused the problem. Helping people see a different way of looking at a situation sometimes helps change their view. It’s all about getting people to try to see a situation from another point of view.

Photo ID’s And Birth Certificates

We have previously reported how difficult it is for clients to obtain benefits and services without the correct identification. We now have the facility to help people get photo ID’s and birth certificates. For some they have nothing, it could be that they have lost their ID moving around so much or it has been stolen. Without ID it is impossible to get a bank account and benefits or work. We have two ladies who are going to help us and one is going to fundraise for that purpose. We are always so humbled by people’s generosity and support.


We struggle to take photographs during a session as many of our service users do not want to be photographed. We always get consent but nevertheless photos are rare. However I saw this scene outside the hall this evening. Some of our wonderful volunteers were quietly waiting outside for the influx of people who come out for a chat after they have eaten. Three of our dedicated make volunteers in their tabards and a motorbike. It made me smile.

Volunteers Outside
Volunteers Outside

There Is Such Emotional Pain

We found this session this evening very sad. A couple of service users came in who have drug issues. One came in this evening with severe cut marks on her wrists that she did last Friday. She said it was spur of the moment which had frightened her. She was incredibly distressed. People do judge, but when you sit will someone and they open up to you it is heartbreaking to hear their stories and experiences. There is such emotional pain. The battle of trying to get clean and find support is ongoing. Dual diagnosis is still an issue that need to be addressed. She said that she cannot get counselling until she is clean from drugs. One cannot be fixed without the other. Drug users do not want to live the life they do. They talk about good times before they were involved with drugs. One of our service users has been taking drugs since she was 12 years old. Counselling is a vital part of the treatment for mental illness. If you do not treat the deep ongoing emotional issues a person will continue to self medicate with drugs and/or alcohol.

We talked about Alana House. It is a drop in clinic for vulnerable women in Broadway House. Some people find it hard to go to other clinics as they see other people they may not want to mix with. We are very lucky to have such an amazing team at Swanswell. They work tirelessly to help people locally with addictions and counselling. One of our service users talked about what hard work it is being a drug addict and how hard you have to work to get through the day to get the money you need for your next fix. She talked about the times she had been clean and how wonderful that felt. She talked about her employment history and her dreams for the future.

Hairdresser News

Kären our wonderful hairdresser had not been in for a few weeks so she was very busy. It is a lovely time for people to feel a bit pampered. Kären is a wonderful listener. She has a small space to work in but she makes it work. She is extremely popular with all the service users who come in.

Kären Our Hairdresser
Kären Our Hairdresser

New Screened Area

We are very restricted with space so have to work situations out as we go along. We have to make sure that we can support people who come in with self inflicted wounds which is quite common. We will be using a screened area as we use our other available room for haircuts which is always very busy.

In Closing

An emotional session this week but the team of volunteers as always work tirelessly to help with whatever materialises with compassion and professionalism.