We welcomed 48 people in last night on the hottest day of the year! Thank you, Carrie, for bringing in a fan, along with the two extras I brought in it did make a difference. Quite a lot of plates I see were used as fans too! Having a fan in the kitchen was so much better. Jan and I have discussed it, for ease and stress levels, tray bake meals such as cottage pie and lasagne by example are easier to serve and the heat levels in the kitchen are cooler. Cooking burgers and bacon, for example, takes too long it’s too fiddly and too hot. The gas plates are so fierce for cooking onions and beans on the gas rings, which adds to the heat and it can become overwhelming especially when you have 20 VERY hungry people queuing.
On The Menu
Cottage pie last night and wow, that went down well. Everyone was very, very hungry. For the first time, there was a concern that we were going to run out of food. For the last two weeks, hot dogs have not been eaten so we had less ready. Two of us had to go out to get rolls for the hotdogs. We struggled this week to keep up with demand.
We had less Greggs food as apparently, McDonalds was closed due to a water leak. One of our volunteers did both runs by running a marathon up and down the High Street to be at two places for 5.30pm. We have to pick up the Prett and Greggs donations at the same time. We have been a bit short of pick up volunteers due to illness, commitment and holidays. However, we now have a volunteer doing the A4 Greggs pick up each week now which is amazing. We really need 3 volunteers a week at present we have two. Each session we send out volunteers to pick up some of the donated food in the High Street at 5.30pm. That takes volunteers away when we are setting so another volunteer to do that at 5.30pm each week would be lovely.
First Aid Help
Emma, our first aid volunteer had to help someone with dreadful feet this week. The hot weather is causing blisters and infections. We gave him the facility to wash and clean his feet which for him was wonderful. Our first aid facility only allows for certain tasks. He had clean dressings and a shower voucher. We signpost to doctors if necessary and help street homeless register with a doctor if they do not have one. Many street homeless feel embarrassed to go to a surgery especially if they are conscious of their odour or appearance of their feet. Mind you, it is very rare we find the homeless in a bad state. People work very hard to keep clean. Wet wipes are a way to help keep fresh. Over time, however, the wipes do dry the skin as showers are not available often enough to wash the perfume off. Dignity and respect is very important to them. We offer laundry tokens and tokens for a weekly shower.
Summer Heat Is A Problem
This hot weather is horrendous for the street homeless. A member of the public said to me this week that it “Must be quite nice living in a tent in this weather, like being on holiday”. One of our clients who has been homeless now for a number of years told me last night that it is worse than the winter.
The intense heat causes problems as the temperature is greater in the tent than outside. Finding shade is not necessarily a problem but there are few places that the homeless can go to get clean water to drink, air conditioning or at least inside to get away from the constant heat. Many go to the library. The street homeless are also sunburned, very dehydrated and bitten to bits. They are incredibly tired too, as sleep is a huge problem due to the temperature in the tent. They, of course, are often woken due to noise outside the tent from traffic, bin collections, building work or other people in the tents nearby.
I tried to find an ice cream van to come to the Soup kitchen last night for a treat and help the street homeless as it is so hot. Sadly, however, I did not manage to. That said, Tesco on the High Street donated 80 choc ices. They went down so well. Thank you to Lisa who works very hard to support us.
Donations Are Drying Up
Our donations have almost dried up. We are very low on tents, head torches, ‘D’ bike locks, tarpaulins and at the moment because of the weather, water bottles. Our Amazon Wish List has these items and it is easy to use. All items are safely delivered to an address when there is always someone there to receive it. The street homeless in our area struggle in the summer just as much as the winter. Their needs are the same all the year around.
One of our chaps went to his doctors’ appointment that we arranged and has his blood test booked soon. He’s engaging really well. It is very hard for people who want to improve their life choices when constantly surrounded by temptation. Swanswell is very supportive and works hard to support people who are willing to try to change their lifestyle. Each week we are seeing his confidence grow and he is looking for his future in a more positive light.
Doggy Happy Birthday
Oh, this little dog had his birthday. Jan made him some dog biscuits and we sang happy birthday to him. He has just been enrolled onto the Dogs Trust Hope Project.
Dogs Trust’s Hope Project provides help with the cost of veterinary treatment for any dog whose owner is homeless. Dogs that are part of our Hope Project Veterinary Scheme are entitled to free flea and worming treatments, vaccinations, neutering and microchipping. We can also subsidise most additional treatments that a dog may need.
This means he will now have his own membership card and will get regular checkups and vaccinations to keep him healthy. This lovely little dog is someone’s life. He is very popular in the Soup Kitchen too.
Tonight was a good session. Everyone was in high spirits and we all sat together, played cards, read the paper and just all spent time together. A good place to spend a Thursday night.