We welcomed about 45 people this evening, perhaps not as many as we expected. We wonder if the Two Saints SWEP initiative is keeping people away, being it was quite cold to walk down and back this evening?
On The Menu Tonight
Jan made an amazing beef stew and Meryl made apple crumble from the huge donation in the summer. The good news is that the apples are depleting, albeit slowly. Hoorah! So the freezers are becoming emptier and ready for the Christmas period.
The beef consisted of five joints of topside donated by Lisa at Tesco Metro. Tesco Metro has become a great support to us. They are also keeping the Soup Kitchen supplied with mince pies over the Christmas season. It is the first time we have been lucky enough to have a large quantity of beef for a casserole donated. People came up and had second and third helpings. Jan cooked broccoli too.
We always have a vegetarian option now, even if a simple dish of jacket potatoes and vegetarian sausages.
Out & About
Every quarter the Newbury Weekly News publishes a free magazine called Out & About that can be found in the main supermarkets, the railway station and many other locations around town. We were a key focus within this edition, a three-page article on the Soup Kitchen. It is written beautifully. We are also in the NWN too.
Fiona Tomas at the NWN has done a brilliant job. We are very humbled and proud by the way she has captured the work we do and the atmosphere of the sessions.
No More Clothes Please
Due to the overwhelming generosity of the West Berkshire communities so far this year, we are unable to take any more clothes at present. We simply do not have the storage space.
We have to sort all the clothes that come in as often so much of it is not practical for the rough sleepers as the clothes they need have to be practical and warm. Clothes we do not use are given to the Salvation Army shop. Please contact us first if you have a donation as it will save time and we hate having to refuse or turn donations away.
We have created a new FAQ section which should answer many common questions. Please keep an eye out for updates as to when we will be able to accept clothes again.
Blooming Strong Award
November 25th marks United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The award celebrates the strength of women who have survived gender-based violence or supported someone who has.
Donations have been coming into us thick and fast this season. A lady called Louise came in with her husband this evening with knitted hats. They were practical colours and very popular. We put them out on our table and they all went.
Push Bike Security
The Soup Kitchen has a good working relationship with The Community Furniture Project. We are able to get bikes for the rough sleepers if they need one. The police have now offered to security mark them for us so the bikes are identifiable. It is also an assurance that the police will know that the bike belongs to that person.
Some of the bikes that we have given out have been subsequently stolen. This is very upsetting for the people who sleep rough as the bikes are relied on heavily. We are always looking for strong bike locks. Combination ones are better as there is no key to worry about or risk losing. We have found that the D shaped locks are the best.
Saturday Soup Session Conceived
Our peer to peer volunteer Phil has had the brilliant idea of doing a Soup run on a Saturday at 4.00pm at the Wharf. Simple sustenance of hot soup, bread rolls, Pot Noodles tea and coffee were on offer. We also took some hats, scarfs and gloves.
This week we did it for the first time and it was a great success. Eleven people turned up to eat. On Saturdays in Newbury, there are no charities open to feed the rough sleepers. We will provide this service as much as we can through the winter months. A member of the public has kindly offered to buy a trolley to go on the back of Phil’s bike so he can put everything in there. We will do it each week from his bike or a car.
Phil understands more than anyone what it is like to be a rough sleeper and to be without food. When he was homeless himself, he was often very hungry. One day he came across a lady who was feeding the ducks stale bread by the canal. He said he was so close in asking the lady for a slice of that bread but he was too proud to do that. He said that was a particularly low point for him. Phil wants to give something back and also help the Soup Kitchen where he can.
We think it is a great idea and it was definitely appreciated.
Not Everyone Wants A Roof
Putting a rough sleeper into accommodation and leaving them to fend for themselves does not work. People need support from professionals, a holding hand and a safety net around them to stop them falling. One of our younger rough sleepers has moved out of accommodation that he was given. His head could not cope with it and the nature of the addictions that were surrounding him. He felt anxious. He called us from Eight Bells during the week very anxious and upset. Meryl sorted him with a 4 man tent and a thick proper mattress that folds into three. Tonight he has a couple of pallets so he is off the ground. He says he has plenty of bedding. He just cannot cope with other people in a confined space and wanted to “run”. We are pleased that he has reached out to us for support and we will do what we can to help him. There are a multitude of reasons why a person sleeps rough and it is usually down to mental health reasons of some description. The problems follow that person wherever they go. Counselling, support and dual diagnosis experience are essential. It can take a big team of professionals and charities to work with one individual to keep them fed, supported and safe.