Homelessness: Solutions for a Growing Issue….

Due to the enormous success of the menu from last week we decided to continue with a similar menu of Ham, Egg and Chips with Baked Beans. Meryl made a Pear and Cinnamon Tart which was served with Custard, and whilst it was a warm and humid evening, the food offering proved a huge success. And whilst the kitchen volunteers struggled with the heat again, Jan continued regardless, frying lots and lots of eggs.

Sometimes some of our clients, especially the rough sleepers prefer to eat later on in the evening or to take food away. This simple menu however does definitely encourage people to eat who do not usually. A simple meal is a lovely thing, comfort food at its best. We were very short on volunteers this week, Meryl was at a conference in London and for other reasons many of our regular volunteers were not in. The team however pulled together and coped with every eventuality that occurred.

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This year, 320,000 people were recorded as homeless in Britain, analysis from housing charity Shelter suggests. It is a rise of 13,000, or 4%, on last year’s figures and equivalent to 36 new people becoming homeless every day. Single mothers are the biggest single group of homeless in the UK at present. Remember homelessness is not just street homeless that we all envisage. Homelessness can be Hostels, Bed and Breakfast and Sofa Surfing as well as Sleeping Rough.

A few other organisations from counties outside London (Oxford and Bristol) were at the conference but all stats and discussion were mainly London driven. It was a good opportunity to Network and learn about charities relativity near to Newbury doing similar things. Already we have taken on board a few things we learned from the evening and new ideas for the future, especially when we mov, as hoped into a more permanent building of our own.

It was aimed about collaboration and “Ending homelessness”. One thing that did stand out that someone said which gives food for thought. Homelessness should not be regarded as a Housing Problem it should be a Public Health Problem. That would change budget availability, expectations and perceptions too.

The Pret Foundation

The Pret Foundation has a simple goal – to help break the cycle of homelessness.

Meryl was invited by “The Pret Foundation” to a conference (11th) at The Guildhall in London organised by the “Make it Happen Platform”. The evening involved a meet and greet, a discussion with Q&A and a networking session. 

Guest Speakers:

  • Neil Coyle MP – Member of Parliament, Bermondsey and Old Southwark
  • Alex Stephany – Founder & CEO, Beam (crowdfunding for individual street homeless to gain work related training
  • Matt Downie – Director of Policy & External Affairs, Crisis
  • Caroline Powell – Founder, A Slice of Happiness

Most of the statistics were London based but nationally we follow suit. The MP Neil Cole gave figures of homelessness. 500 reported homeless people in London in 2010 in 2018/19 those figures have risen to 5,000.

We put up our new banner designed by Phil who himself is an ex rough sleeper and it looked great, by far the best and most informative. It was good to see Newbury Soup Kitchen represented in this way. Newbury Soup Kitchen does not always get positive support and feedback. There was a person commenting in the Q&A session that small charities such as Soup Kitchens are a STICKING PLASTER for a bigger problem. We are at the gritty end and often first place of engagement with people dealing with homelessness. It is not uncommon for the volunteers to treat self harming wounds, acute First Aid situations, dealing with disagreements and difficult potentially explosive situations or just being there as support and comfort to a person in need.

Many many people in a situation of homelessness rely heavily on Soup Kitchens and charities that give time and compassion and provide healthy meals and donations of clothing, tents and deodorants etc, all on our Amazon wish list http://amzn.to/2fYwyJz

This week we had the Community Dental Team in at 4pm, unfortunately this week nobody came in to see them. So many of our clients have little or no teeth but they often have severe problems and anxieties that go with the ascossation with dentists. We will keep advertising the dentist team and the HOLT nurses as they are such a wonderful service to have available.

During this weeks’ session we had our volunteer hairdresser and podiatrist in together. They were both very busy and had to juggle a bit due to the lack of extra space we have. Our ability to have outreach is limited due to lack of space but we are all happy you work with what we have and provide as much extra support that we can.

38 people came in this evening. The volunteers were as always committed, dedicated and completely unfazed by events that occurred. Sometimes sessions do not run as smoothly as we would like due to events and incidents that occur. Often the homeless and vulnerable community find life difficult, frustrating and overwhelming. We are always there to help where and when we can in a professional and safe manner. Always putting our clients first in a non judgemental and caring way.

Please remember to donate through The Good Exchange of which we receive Match Funding at present. All information about what we do and the support we need is on our website. newburysoupkitchen.org.uk

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