Suicidal Thoughts And Zombie Fun Run Fundraiser

Wow, that was a full on session. We had 54 people in this evening plus two people who chose not to come inside. Cath said we beat the record for the number of people who came in within the first ten minutes. Thirty four. We were staggered.

On The Menu

Jan cooked sausage pasta, bread and butter pudding with custard. Apparently also this evening hot dogs were very popular again. Requests for hot dogs had wained a bit, but maybe it’s due to the weather getting colder that it is increasing again.

Food Donations

Food donations from Newbury Police Station.

Inspector Mark Tucker from Newbury police station donated some tinned food, cereal and rolls left over from a trip he organised for some cadets to the Lake District. Sue and her work colleague Phil delivered them this evening. It promotes the Soup Kitchen and helps build relationships with the police. We are so pleased to have strong relations with the police through the ranks. We appreciate their support and interest in the Soup Kitchen and the welfare of the rough sleepers and homeless.

Trust Needs To Be Earned

Two of our ex-rough sleepers who are now in accommodation came over this evening. However, this week they chose not to come inside as they wanted to stay outside and have a cuppa. One said he heard it was too busy and he couldn’t face the session noise this evening. He seemed a little low we thought.

The second is worried that professional volunteers are going to quiz him and ask too many questions. He does not trust professionals. He is suspicious of anyone with a profession in psychology or counselling.

It is very common that regular visitors to the Soup Kitchen are sometimes untrusting. We work over months and months to gain a little trust. It is wonderful if we manage to build on stronger trust than that. It is not unusual for people to have lived through “the system” from childhood or adolescence. They feel often misled or unheard. If family and the people closest to them have let them down, it takes a long time to trust anyone again, let alone a volunteer. We pride ourselves on the relationships we have built with many clients. We are now starting to get peer to peer volunteers and ex-users of the Soup Kitchen asking to volunteer. We are very proud of the progress and successes people have made.

Progress Is Being Made

One of our regular guests to the Soup Kitchen came in this evening towards the end and very drunk. In the past, we have seen this person much worse. This person had fallen and hit their cheek. It was very swollen but not bleeding. Treatment of any kind was refused. This person was more interested in telling Meryl that they had been on their script now for nine days, this is a huge success. This is a big change from six months or so ago when this person turned up with cut wrists and always under the influence of so many things and talking about suicide. We are so pleased with their progress.

Rough Sleepers In Newbury

What a wonderful note to have received this week. It demonstrates we are helping people
This week we have helped and worked with two people to get them out of a tent and into accommodation which is amazing. We are so happy to see them safe and warm. We are also aware of an extremely vulnerable person who will be going into accommodation too. This is wonderful news. On the flip however, two new people came into the Soup Kitchen this week who are now homeless. The weather is getting colder and people are starting to complain they are getting cold. Figures are changing weekly, but we think there are between 45 and 52 rough sleepers in Newbury, this is Newbury and not West Berkshire. This card was brought in by one of the rough sleepers from the campsite. Often members of the public think that homeless people are selfish and unapproachable. We want to show you that this is not the case. We are touched by their kindness.

Rooted Addictions

A previous client came in to see us. He was in good form with his cheeky sense of humour. Tonight he had obviously taken something however, as he was not completely lucid. Saying that, he was cheerful and well behaved. He was showing us all the appointments that he was planning and the steps he was making to improve his life. He said
Well you have got to try haven’t you
He didn’t seem to remember his last session with us, it wasn’t good and he became very verbally aggressive outside. He is not allowed in very drunk as he can become a handful. It is so difficult for some people. Addictions are so deep-rooted, they are mixed with terrible emotions, memories and experience.

Suicidal Thoughts

We had a client feeling suicidal this evening. The volunteer sitting with her was concerned enough to phone the CRISIS line. This is the second time we have done it for this person now. This person’s anxiety is increasing as they are on the verge of losing their accommodation. There is sadly no contract and the landlord is wanting them to move out. All we can do is to encourage that they go to the Council which we have done. In this case, benefits do not cover private rental and the deposit.

Epileptic Fit

In the last half hour of the session, a regular client had an epileptic fit. Luckily Tom and Mai-Britt noticed before he fell to the floor, so carefully guided him down and put him into the recovery position. We called the paramedics who were with us very, very quickly. The paramedics wanted to take him to hospital but he refused. The paramedics carried on triaging him until they were reluctantly happy to let him go home. It is very common for someone who has had a fit to want to sleep afterwards. We were concerned if he were admitted to hospital in respect to him getting home. The concern is that he would be released from the hospital the next day with no family or friends to pick him up and bring him home. This has happened before with another recent client, where the client was let out of the hospital in Reading with no transport to get home.
The Paramedics arrived very quick and we able to help with the epileptic patient.

Hospital Releases An Issue

Many people in similar situations who are released from hospital jump the train while trying to get back to Newbury. They then get fines that escalate as they cannot pay so they end up with bailiffs, court summons and more. Court fines are pointless for a rough sleeper who has no possessions or income. So, this can cause more anxiety to boot, where the cycle of mental health, anxiety and depression can increase. With emotionally and physically vulnerable people this can be a downward spiral. Andrew Sharp at Health watch is looking into this issue as it is a concern.

First Aider

This epileptic instance makes it very apparent that we always need a first aider on site at every session. We provide regular training, so our volunteers stepped in calmly and compassionately ensuring that safety and respect was paramount.

Laundry Vouchers

We have given out many of laundry vouchers this week. We are only meant to give out two. The Laundry Basket are so supportive towards the rough sleepers. Cleanliness and dignity are so important. A wash and dry is expensive so we thank them for their generosity.

Small Steps, Big Achievements

A volunteer did mention to Meryl what the Soup Kitchen does achieve. Ditto, other peers in meetings have for example have accused Meryl of creating one big sticking plaster for the homeless situation. We do not know what the real answer is. What we all do know however, is to see the huge excitement of anyone who is making some life-changing decisions brings a smile to our face.

This week by example, someone who has been homeless for 2.5 years, who has faced some of their biggest fears, who has made some difficult and scary (for them) decisions recently so that they can do something that they know they need to improve their lives and future options is emotional.

Again, someone moving into a hostel, even though they have had bad experiences in similar facilities in the past. Someone being on their script now for nine days. Someone working hard on a new venture when everything in life seems to be against them. A person who manages to come into the Soup Kitchen sober, someone who has not drunk all afternoon so they can fill out some necessary forms. And finally, the above lovely card for all of us this evening.

These may be small steps for us, but they are enormous acts to each and every one of our clients. Sticking plaster or not, we cannot help everyone, but we have a damn good go. Again, this evening was a session which was at times overwhelming, very tiring, frustrating and often made us feel hopeless. We know we are doing our best to do a good job with the tools we have.

Mobile Phone Appeal Needs A Boost

Disappointingly, we have only received one mobile telephone from last week’s appeal. We ask that if you have any telephones and chargers rumbling around at home, please can you donate them to us.

Zombie Fun Run

We are extremely humbled to announce that a wonderful lady, Ava Lynch is going to put herself out of her comfort zone to do a Zombie Fun Run on 27th October at Newbury Show Ground and raise money for the Soup Kitchen.

Play Video

She is an inexperienced runner and will be running the 5KM course of inflatable obstacles and of course, Zombies! A little like tag rugby, runners are set off every 15 minutes with Zombies pulling off your tags to infect you.

Please sponsor and support her as all funds will be used to help our local rough sleepers and homeless.