This evening was a vast improvement over last week where Meryl and some of the volunteers got home feeling quite overwhelmed by the events of the session, wondering how we could improve and carry on with so much pressure. Trying to sustain the growing drug issues and very disturbed people who were coming through the door with little mental health support is stressful and emotional. However, this week Meryl said she went home with a fuzzy feeling of “That was a good night. We all did well this evening!”
It seemed much quieter this evening but in fact, we still had 42 people through the door. Everyone was in good spirits and there were no incidents to report.
There were burgers on the menu with apple and blackberry crumble. Cath peeled 18kg of apples again this week, only one more box left!
This evening two new volunteers came in to see how they liked the Soup Kitchen. One of them helped collect tents from Reading festival and the other lady has volunteered for the Samaritans which is an invaluable experience for us.
One of our regular clients who is an artist was on fabulous form this evening, bringing in a scrapbook of some artwork. Meryl had discussed her bringing it in weeks ago but Meryl thought it had been forgotten. This person has come on so far from the first day she and Meryl met, when Meryl had to help out because this person had cut their wrists the day before.
Appointments are now set up with Swanswell and the person is working hard to reduce their levels of alcohol and drug use. Meryl said she could tell that there was real excitement and determination to work on improving their life and choices.
A regular client came in very drunk but not so twitchy this evening. He did stay and eat and was less distressed about the voices in his head. He can go to the council for wayfaring so we have told him this. As the winter is looming, Two Saints and the council are making extra efforts by supporting people if they choose the option of wayfaring. Wayfaring is an arrangement when people can stay at the hostel between 7.30pm and 9.30am and have breakfast. This means they can be out of the cold weather or indeed the hot temperatures that we have encountered recently.
Lots of people relapse and their everyday lives are a continual battle. Highs and lows are extreme but we do our best to support them through their troubles as much as we can. Believing in someone and telling them that you believe in them makes a huge impact on people. Some of our clients have never been told that someone is proud of them or believe in them.
How do you judge success? For some coming in sober or engaging in a service is a success. We all have different expectations and success ambitions. We do what we can to support and encourage all the time.
The police made a welcome visit this week. Hopefully, any drug activity will cease. We are not sure how many of our regular known drug service users disappeared this evening. To build relationships, we think it will be good for our clients to get to know the police and other community police a bit. Hopefully, they will feel they can sit down with the clients and volunteers and have a cup of tea and a chat. Maybe we should ask the police to hand around sandwiches. 🙂
Meryl is pleased that they want to support us. The plan is that the police will at least drive past and show a presence. We still have Phil and Sue our community officers once a month too in uniform and Sue each week volunteers too.
The local company Cirrus has kindly sorted out some new tabards for us. Ones without pockets for the kitchen as a result of the Food Hygiene 2 certificate stipulations and some new ones. We are now able to give a tabard to each volunteer to take home. Mind you already John forgot his this evening! Mai-Britt said she is going to miss Cath telling her off for leaving her badge on her tabard which often has a near experience with the washing machine.
We are constantly humbled by people’s generosity towards the Soup Kitchen. Last night, a member of the public walked in from the street and gave Meryl £20. They were just walking past and saw our sign outside and the activity in and outside the hall. They simply wanted to support us and he asked us to buy some soup. We will put the money towards purchasing food.
We have been invited to a suicide prevention course which is invaluable training for us as we often have clients who come in who are suicidal and very agitated. This will help us enormously, we are very privileged to be asked.
Newbury Weekly News
Andy Murrill who is the Editor for the NWN came in to see us. We had a great chat and he talked to our peer to peer volunteer and some of the volunteers. It is great to get support from the local paper. They will support us as and when we need anything in way of promoting the work we do. He said that the Soup Kitchen has complete support from the NWN and he was very impressed with what we have achieved. Ongoing we think we are going to need a press officer.
Rough Sleepers Task and Targeting Group
In the week Meryl and Sue went to the Rough Sleepers Task and Targeting Group Meeting. The statutory organisations and charities all work together to ascertain the individual needs of each rough sleeper and how we can help them. We have worked out there are approximately 50 rough sleepers in Newbury at the moment.
This week three of our wonderful volunteers cleaned the carpet in the Salvation hall which was still grubby from the night shelter and us using it every week. It looks fantastic. Probably could do with another go soon but it’s a huge improvement.
Our lovely new volunteer who is a retired GP said this evening what a wonderful place the Soup kitchen is. We agree, especially this evening!