Supporting Our Clients: Dentists, Doctors Appointments & Our Week

The weather was shocking during the session today, it was miserable for the volunteers and everyone who braved the terrible rain to stay outside and keep everyone safe and happy. We had 46 people through the door, 30 of those were in during the first few minutes. 

We had a week off from cooking a dessert this week as we had rice pudding (tinned) tweaked with evaporated milk and Demerara sugar and baked in the oven. Two choices, either raisins or plain. It was very popular. Jan cooked one of our donated turkeys and a turkey crown to make turkey and leek pie with a mash topping. With that we had peas, a tomato salad, potato salad and a green salad. The Soup this week was carrot and orange made from the carrots donated from supermarket excess Christmas vegetable stocks. 

Initially it was a session that felt a bit tense. A couple of people were very drunk one of which was struggling with hearing voices which was distracting and troubling them. With the noise in the room also it caused anxiety and irritability. We had to manage the situation by keeping the person away from any situation that may explode into aggression or verbal outbursts. Drinking can affect a person’s mental health, and this was no exception. It helped as we managed to get the person to eat and drink therefore over the course of the session they improved slightly.  The change in someone’s personality with alcohol can be very distressing and frightening at times so we have to be careful to manage the situation with care, ensuring safety of others too. 

Healthwatch: Supporting Our Client's Health In Times Of Need

For people who are homeless, rough sleeping or in hostels it seems to be a constant battle getting doctors’ appointments and also ensuring that people in need will engage and turn up for those appointments. When someone new becomes homeless and have no address they can struggle to get onto a doctor’s surgery register with NO FIXED ABODE.  It has been known in the past unfortunately for doctors’ surgeries to turn people away. With the hard work and continued training by the surgeries this is improving. Healthwatch West Berkshire have produced new cards that can be given to people in this cohort. This card shows all the different services available locally along with places and charities that provide food throughout the week. The card should give an open door to registration to a local doctors’ surgery without a person needing ID or an address. 

It is a constant battle to get people to appointments with a GP. For some they are embarrassed by their appearance and odour so will not sit in a waiting room. We are very lucky now to have Community Outreach Nurses (HOLT) and Community Dentists at our new session on a Wednesday 2-4pm at the Salvation Army hall.  


Engagement is improving and our numbers which are still low are growing which is fantastic. The HOLT and dental services depend on going to where this chaotic group are and not making them fit round a service. Issues that the nurses have dealt with during this session have been quite complex and it has made a real difference to many lives. This added support also helps our volunteers and the voluntary sector who deal with this cohort.

We come across acute, chronic symptoms and mental health issues that are often as volunteer’s way out of our comfort or knowledge zones, up until now we have had limited or no options but to signpost or to offer help ourselves. With this cohort it is proved time and time again that sign posting is not always an effective way of helping someone engage with the services they so desperately need. Having these two wonderful services at our disposal on a Wednesday is making a huge difference. 

Please Help & Donate!

We are also in need of biodegradable bowls and plates. We use these every week instead of plates due to safeguarding reasons. We have a link on our Amazon Wishlist The address for our Wishlist is already set up on the Newbury Soup Kitchen account.


These rectangular bowls are great for Soup Kitchen Sessions so we use them every week.  The high edges and sturdy shape work more effectively with heavy meals and they do not go soggy. Please email for delivery address. 

During the last few weeks the weather has been dreadfully wet. Many of our clients came in soaked through. The need to come into eat and get support often overrides the need to stay in the dry. For the people that are rough sleeping or out and about throughout the day waterproof trousers and waterproof jackets are essential. We are always in need of good quality waterproof items to keep people dry. 

Support From The Local Community

This week we went to Trinity School to speak to the assembly of Griffin House. Ms Dickson invited us along to speak to the students about Homelessness and why and how homelessness happens and what support is given locally by Newbury Soup Kitchen and other organisations.  There were approximately 300 children in assembly from year 7 upwards. Meryl talked a lot about how people can end up homeless and she also talked about how drug abuse affects lives and relationships and the struggle people have long term with fighting addiction. Ms Dickson who is head of Griffin House has inspired the pupils to work together to support the more vulnerable children within Griffin House and the pupils are now deciding how to implement their homeless project this term and throughout the year. Meryl thoroughly enjoyed meeting the pupils and staff and speaking to them about ideas afterwards too. 

There are still tables available for the quiz nights at both pubs. A dumpy night out and raising money for Newbury Soup Kitchen at the same time.