Another extremely busy evening. In total we welcomed 47 clients through the door. It was felt about the same amount of members of the public also came in to give donations and ask about volunteering. This time of year it is lovely, but we are completely inundated with clothes. I think Mai-Britt was going to cry if anything else came in this evening. She left tonight with a full car for the storage space that we have as we are slowly filling upstairs in the hall. We are aware that we do not want to take over any more space than we already have.
Social media works wonders and people are starting to come in with donations from our wish list. Hopefully this year we will be given less food, otherwise we will have to donate somewhere else as we will be unable to use it. Having said that, the Foodbank had loads from us last year so at least it went to people who needed it. Maybe the public could perhaps consider donating tinned and long shelf life packaged product to the Foodbank over the Christmas period?
On The Menu
Hungerford Collection Point
Kelly Harper, her son Harvey and grandma Chris from Harpers Garage in Hungerford popped in to see us to donate some goods off our wish list. They have taken it upon themselves to collect and be a collection point for Hungerford.
There is a homeless man in Hungerford at the moment. Last week Meryl and Phil took him a bike and the Hungerford Foodbank volunteers arranged a food parcel for him and delivered it to his tent. Now Kelly is aware, she said she would try to support him with warm clothes as he has very little. Hopefully, the local community will rally around this person and support him and keep him safe.
There were no major incidents this week, which is always lovely and a relief. The lady who fell over last week came in to say thank you for all the help she and her partner received last week when she fell over and smashed her face. Apparently, after they were taken home she had nine epileptic fits after her fall. Her boyfriend, even though intoxicated, had looked after her and got her an ambulance. Emma our first aid volunteer will to do a risk assessment with her so we know what to expect should she have a fit in the Soup Kitchen.
Abi our ID volunteer had her work cut out tonight. One of our younger volunteers informed us that he could not get a replacement bank card as his is damaged. He wants a new card to be sent to the Salvation Army address as his registered address at present is different. The bank will not let him have a new card even though he passed all the security questions. Abi is going to apply for a provisional driving license for him, but in the meantime she has applied for a citizen card. The job centre will sign it and then hopefully he can get a bank card. It is apparent that having no photo ID causes so many issues for rough sleepers and sofa surfers. Abi works hard to help our clients when possible.
Abi is also going to get a driving licence sorted for another client. Meryl will meet him in town tomorrow to get his passport photos. His reading is not great so he would rather someone was with him. Many rough sleepers lack confidence, we try very hard to build that confidence up too. All this helps with their recovery and journey to improving their lives and making better choices and decisions.
Severe Weather Extended Provision
At Loose Ends during Friday’s breakfast, the Options Housing team from West Berkshire Council are going to be there to talk to everyone. We spoke to as many people as possible this evening to tell them about it. Hopefully, the rough sleepers will go and talk to the team who will be able to advise them on their options now as far as accommodation and Severe Weather Extended Provision (SWEP) which will be in place from 1st November 2018 to 31st March 2019.
Anyone wishing to access the provision will need to attend the Housing Service at the Council Offices at Market Street between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am and 4.30pm on a Friday. To ensure that the provision is available to those who need it, we are only to refer individuals who have no other accommodation available to them and who would otherwise be rough sleeping.
Those authorised to use the extended provision will be able to access Two Saints from 7.00pm and will be provided with an evening meal and breakfast prior to leaving at 9.30am the next morning. There are plans to provide any daytime activities, but these are not currently finalised and so arrangements will be confirmed by Two Saints at the start of each day.
If a member of the public becomes aware of a rough sleeper who is unknown to services, please submit a referral via Streetlink and they will be visited by the Outreach Team.
It may not seem it, but the council, statutory organisations and charities are working together to try to house and help the rough sleepers this winter. We go to regular Making Every Adult Matter meetings (MEAM), the Rough Sleepers Task and Targeting Group (RSTTG) and Homeless Strategy Group. Andrew from MEAM, Richard and Jane from Two Saints, Erica from West Berkshire Homeless and Meryl from the Soup Kitchen all provide outreach during the week to help and support. A Blue Light Outreach worker will be starting from Swanswell two days a week very soon. The Blue light Project is an organisation that works with non-engaging treatment-resistant drinkers who cost the country a lot of money due to constant use of blue light services like the police and ambulances.
Drug Users Want To Get Clean
Meryl had a long chat with a couple this evening who are known drug users. They were talking about the difficulties of drug addiction, having children, losing children through social services, having a relationship with another drug user and how difficult it is every day to run what is effectively a business to be able to get drugs to score every day. They both said that if hey could put that much effort into something else, no doubt they would be very successful. They both want to get clean. They were both very candid. They see the destruction that they cause to themselves and others. Meryl felt quite sad but had a good talk.
One of our clients was tearful as she has no money to bury her mother. She herself does not understand how to get grants to pay for the funeral. Her mother left a couple of hundred pounds within her pension account. A basic funeral is £4,000 and there are plenty of family and friend who are unable to help but want to go to a funeral. It’s desperately sad and heartbreaking to see her distress.
We are still looking for volunteers to do the Prett and Greggs pick up at 5.30pm each week. From February we will need another volunteer to pick up the Greggs donation on Thursday from the A4 location every week as Samantha is going to Hong Kong for a year. She wants to do it again when she comes back. If anyone is interested to do any of these, we would be very grateful. Please complete our application form or contact us through Facebook.
Christmas Wish List
As always the local community are incredibly generous this time of year. We now have enough tents, sleeping bags and sanitary towels. These will last the next few months, if not more. We will publish an appeal if we need more. In the interim, we are still in need of most items from our Christmas Wish List such as head torches and Lycra boxer shorts. We are desperate for jogging bottoms, strong D-shaped bike locks, deodorants, hats, gloves and flasks.
You may recall we published an appeal for mobile phones recently. We have received a few and need more. We all have old ones in the back of the draw at home, so please have a rummage around. It would be preferable if they are unlocked and a note on them to say if they are unlocked or on a network. They can be dropped off at the Salvation Army hall on a Thursday between 4.30pm and 6.00pm.
We have our wish list on Amazon that is set up also all goods arrive safely to a manned location. This is the easiest option to donate goods to us.
The Winter Is Coming
We say it every week. Watching our volunteers sit and spend time with people who are not always coherent, clean, mentally stable, ill and sometimes rude but funny, kind, very appreciative and wonderful people with wonderful characters. Please look at the person underneath the perception of a homeless person sitting in the street. They are a human being, like any of us there are reasons they are in this position, some are sad reasons.
Spare a thought. The winter is coming and it is getting very cold. Saturdays the homeless have no food facility in Newbury. A hot cup of soup or a hot sausage roll could save a life. Hypothermia is a huge issue for the homeless. Approximately 450 people have died on the streets in this country in the last year. Please do not let this happen in our town.
If you go down to the camp please remember your safety. Always go with another person as safeguarding is a priority. We all need to look after our local vulnerable whoever they are.