Sofa Surfing, Bills and Cold Weather

We had 34 people in tonight, food offered was tomato and red pepper soup, meat and onion pies with carrots, broccoli, crochet potatoes with onion gravy. For dessert, it was plum and apple crumble with custard. The apple stocks are slowly depleting!  

Cooking so many pies at once along with trays of roasted veg and a crumble was a struggle with oven space this week. It did, however, give Jan a bit of a rest from cooking a meal as the pies were donated from M&S at the retail park which was great. 

Yo-Yo Lifestyle

We had a few old faces in this week. The initial reason why Meryl started the Soup Kitchen was because of one of these people and Jan, Cath and Meryl have had a great relationship with this person from volunteering at the Foodbank over five years ago.  They have seen this person hit rock bottom, go up and hit rock bottom again. Some people are yoyo-ers. They can often lose their place at the Hostel or accommodation, usually through rent arrears and then they start the cycle again through Wayfaring until 25% of their arrears are paid off.   

This time this person was lucky enough to be able to Sofa Surf otherwise they would have been back in a tent. Still struggling with an addiction we talked about the services at Swanswell and how important it is to engage with the support workers. This yo-yo lifestyle is due to an addiction taking over any reasoning and people often struggle to pay bills and budget effectively. At any one point in Newbury, it is suggested that there are up to 250 people per night Sofa Surfing. These figures are impossible to corroborate but a shocking statistic nevertheless.

Accommodation Support

Two of our volunteers went to see a client who lives on a boat to help them fix their wood burning stove. It has been -3C in their bedroom so staying in bed was the only way to keep warm for the last few days. We look to support people who have accommodation to ensure that they can make the most out of what they have. A simple gesture can make such a difference to a persons life. 

Bills, Bills, Bills

Many people live without heating, gas and electricity often due to lack of funds. Lots of our clients live with meters for their utility bills and unless a person can prove “Financial Hardship” their bills can be higher than paying by direct debit. Chaotic lives cause many issues that contribute to other problems spiralling out of control. Everyday life is a struggle.  

Cold Weather

The cold weather can force people to sleep on harder flooring to help reduce damp coming up through the ground. This can make someone more vulnerable as they choose to sleep in a place that is more visible. Many rough sleepers choose to be invisible for safety. Through this cold weather, hot food and drinks are essential to help prevent hypothermia.  

Support & Services

Sometimes we have to support our clients in ways to help them go through difficult times in their lives. Whether it is going with them to a relatives funeral or finding smart clothes for a court appearance. Every week a new challenge comes to our attention and we will do our best to help where we can. Our outreach services include helping our clients gain ID so they can get a bank account and supporting them if necessary with forms for benefits applications. Simple things for many people but a mountain to climb for others. We hope this can help our clients go a long way to giving people the opportunity to move forward and empower and encourage them on their life journey. 

And Finally...

The Soup Kitchen has become a social club for many, a place where they can get a healthy, hearty meal along with friendship and compassion. Friendships are forged at the Soup Kitchen and trust is gained.  It’s not all about Soup! 

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The Newbury Soup Kitchen is division of the Haven (West Berkshire) homeless charity. Charity Number 1179298.
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