A beautiful evening, one of the volunteers said she thought it would be quiet this evening due to the sunshine, but we had 46 people through the door.
We had loads of food today. The hall smelled strongly of garlic before the session. Meryl made vegetable soup; Jan made sausage pasta bake, potato salad and garlic bread and finally, Meryl made apple and pear crumble. With extra hotdogs, jacket potatoes etc it was a huge feast. Most of it went, we took the remaining to the hostel for the people staying there.
People constantly struggle with rent commitments and council tax bills. It is not uncommon for people to go without meals, as they cannot afford to eat after they have paid their bills. Many of the clients who come in to us do so for this very reason.
People often have arrears that they are trying to pay off. The stress of constant letters, eviction notices, bailiffs cause an awful amount of added stress. Meryl often helps as advocacy to reduce the stress where possible. Working with housing and speaking to the Council tax office does help. Some arrears are taken automatically off benefits. This can cause people to be left with little or no money. Many people bury their head because they feel overwhelmed. We are always looking for advocacy support for our clients as many people are struggling with issues and just need someone to work through the problems slowly and methodically.
Many of our clients suffer from epilepsy, some have had it since childhood, and others develop it through head injuries or alcohol abuse.
The main symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures. These are sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works. Seizures can affect people in different ways, depending on which part of the brain is involved. Some seizures cause the body to jerk and shake (a “fit”), while others cause problems like loss of awareness or unusual sensations. They typically pass in a few seconds or minutes.
Seizures can occur when you’re awake or asleep. Sometimes they can be triggered by something, such as feeling very tired or triggers such as:
- a lack of sleep
- waking up
- drinking alcohol
- some medications and illegal drugs
- in women, (monthly menstruated cycle)
- flashing lights (this is an uncommon trigger)
Unfortunately a client had an epileptic fit towards the latter part of the session. It went on for quite a long time so they slept afterwards for a while. One of our volunteers dealt with him initially as they saw it start and guided him onto the floor so he would not hurt himself. This evening we were lucky as we had Emma, Matilda and Kate in who are all so experienced and calm. Emma is a trained nurse, Matilda a retired GP and Kate is a paramedic. They are experienced and fully trained in first aid, they calmly took over and made sure he was safe.
The fit lasted a long time so it was thought that an ambulance should be called. Four paramedics arrived in an ambulance and a car. After he was able to stand and walk he was triaged in the ambulance. The crew wanted him to go to hospital but he just wanted to walk home. He would not accept a lift either. Many of our clients worry about how they are going to get home from Reading or Basingstoke once they are discharged from hospital, this does affect people’s decision to go sometimes.
Identification, Training & Pot Noodles!
We are having a frustrating time with driving licence applications as we have had three back in the last couple of weeks. They are now NOT accepting applications from the Salvation Army hall, as it is not a residential address. Without a residential address applicants need more forms of ID such as NI number, rent book, tenancy agreement mortgage information etc. Rough sleepers have very little, and more commonly none, of these.
It is a mountain to climb to get ID sorted. A birth certificate needs information that some people who are estranged from their families do not know. It is frustrating but we usually get there in the end…
Our Volunteers were lucky enough to receive Modern day Slavery training this week that was excellent. Nicola Bell who is the Programme Manager from The Willow Project came to talk to us about Exploitation, Modern day Slavery, trafficking, abuse etc. It was extremely harrowing at times but very informative. Her experience is working with people from 6yrs old to 90yrs old. These terrible things happen on our doorstep. She said that she guaranteed that every day we would walk past a person who is experiencing one of these terrible situations. We all need to be aware be it through volunteering or in day-to-day life. The Willow project is commissioned by the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) striving to stamp out and support victims of exploitation and Modern Day slavery. Today slavery chains are invisible; they are emotional, financial (debt bondage) abusive or controlling and domestic servitude.
Anyone can be a victim of this.
We are so pleased to announce that we have confirmed the HOLT (Health Outreach Liaison Team) and the Community Dental nurses to come in on alternate weeks on Thursdays 4-5pm at The Salvation Army hall. We will open earlier to facilitate this new and needed service. The Soup Kitchen will open as usual between 6-8pm. The HOLT team start 6th June and the Dental team 27th June. All the charitable and statutory services have been informed so we hope clients will come and see us.
We are appealing again for Pot Noodles please. We give out more now on our Saturday Soup Session at the Wharf where people eat them and take them away with them, as well as giving them out on a Thursday. We can get through easily 50 a week. They can be dropped off at the Salvation Army hall on a Thursday from 3pm, Saturday 4-5pm (Wharf) or purchased through our Amazon Wish list.