This week was again quieter than it has been for a while with only 35. Having less people in allows the volunteers more time to sit, chat and support as needed. The atmosphere was jovial, however lively at times, which had to be controlled. Many of our regular clients are using the night shelter and winter provision facility at Two Saints so that for now has reduced our regular numbers.
Each week, Cath (who is on the door) texts us at the end of the session, so we can keep a record for the blog and for paperwork purposes. This week she said “35 lovely clients”. She’s right, on the whole everyone was very happy and on good form.
Meryl cooked this week as Jan was away. Potato and Leek soup, Fish Pie in a parsley sauce with peas and Apple Crumble with custard. We were a bit worried how the fish pie would go down… but other than one client who said that fish was the “devils food”, it was very very popular. People who said they did not like fish or had not had it for years went back for seconds and thirds. Many people were pleased that our apple crumble was back on the menu.
Under The Influence, Helping With Identification
A few people came in this evening under the influence of drugs. We have a zero tolerance when it comes to drugs so we are very strict about general conduct of everyone who comes in. We have to watch people who are known drug users all the time. We will not tolerate any drug use or dealing on the premises. The police do pop in for a cup of tea often when they are on shift and Sue our wonderful Community Police Officer volunteers each week too. Unfortunately it is part and parcel of homelessness and something we have to work with in a non-judgemental way. It is not uncommon for someone who is addicted to drugs, to feel trapped and very scared and frustrated with their addiction and life choices. Breaking addiction takes a life long commitment with a lot of help from trained professionals and plenty of dogged determination.
This week a client came in wanting help with photographic ID. After being homeless he has no ID as he lost it when he was rough sleeping. People find it very hard to keep personal documentation safe when sleeping on the streets. Finding people who they trust to look after this documentation is often a problem too. Without photographic ID a person cannot get a bank account, benefits, a rental agreement or even for some, a job. We try where we can to help with IDs to fulfil this requirement. Applying for photographic ID is very difficult without a birth certificate, NI number or an address. It can be a chicken and egg problem.
Many people desperately want to improve their situation. Moving on from rough sleeping to a hostel onto accommodation needs planning and support. Many private landlords are nervous especially when people are not working and are on benefits. People often need extra support, which can be lacking once they move from the hostel and supported housing.
There are over 5,000 people rough sleeping in England at present. Mental health, drugs and alcohol play a huge part in homelessness. It can be a big adjustment for people to move on to permanent accommodation. Sheltered housing with key workers for some is the best that they can manage. Often people yoyo in and out of accommodation into a tent then after time and help from statutory or charitable organisations back to accommodation. This cannot be done without constant help, patience, support along with rules, structure and boundaries. Some people never manage to move on to accommodation, as people get older they can get “stuck” and it is very difficult to know how to help them. People can often become resigned to rough sleeping. Long term addicts, be it alcohol or drugs, often do not engage and do not recognise help, and often react with aggression and paranoia.
Some people just fall through the cracks in society, mental health can cause people to struggle to keep down employment therefore rent and bills become impossibility.
For so many people however when you sit and talk to them and get to know their story it is often filled with sadness, abuse, family breakdown and PTSD. These experiences then can be easily blocked out with drugs and alcohol starting this terrible cycle. Living on the streets pulls you in, outdoor living, freedom and the lack of commitment can become the norm – it can stop people fighting to get out of their predicament.
Help Us Fundraise
Newbury Soup Kitchen would not be what it is without the unwavering dedication of all the volunteers who come in each and every week with laughter, commitment and a friendly non-judgemental attitude. They clean, tidy, pick up, carry, and hoover, without question and complaint. They help on other activities to fundraise, raise awareness and are always willing to attend training to improve the outreach and care they provide. The team is strong and we work well together to provide what we can to help improve the lives of the people we work with in any way we can.
Some of us have a British Red Cross first aid at work certificate now from a recent three day course and we will be training others in time. We have decided to concentrate on raising awareness for a Heartsine 500p defibrillator from a portion of the money donated to us through The Good Exchange Project. We are still getting match funding. Please encourage people you know to look at our project HERE direct donations will receive match funding through Greenham Trust who are wonderful to help us.
Can you help? We are still looking for a TREASURER to support us with the running of the Soup Kitchen and our expansion into a building through HAVEN (West Berkshire).
The treasurer will be required to take the lead at board meetings on all financial matters associated with the charity, this will include:
1) Making sure the charity keeps proper accounts
2) Reviewing the charity’s financial performance
3) Drawing up or reviewing policies for finance and investment
4) Ensuring that the charity has robust and effective financial controls in place
5) Liaising with finance staff and with the charity’s independent examiner or auditor
6) Reporting on financial matters to the board.