There’s Always A Friendly Ear At The End Of The Rainbow

A rainy but beautiful night tonight. We wanted to start with this stunning picture from one of our volunteers, we think it summed up the evening beautifully. 

There's always a warm welcome at the end of the rainbow

We had 46 people in this evening. Jan was still away so Meryl cooked. We had chilli with jacket potatoes or rice and yes……apple crumble and custard. All the food went, there could have been more chilli, 4kg of mince is not quite enough, we may be creeping up to needing 5kg a session when we provide a mince dish. 

Flu Shots All Round

Meryl has her Flu Shot
This evening we also had a pharmacist in from McParlands pharmacy in Wash Common he came in and administered flu vaccines to anyone who wanted one, in total it was 22.  He was such a lovely man, really kind and non-judgemental. We were amused as a couple of the drug (needle) users were worried about the pain and actually found that it hurt. Apparently, regular drug use causes lack of nerve sensation in certain areas so having a vaccination in the top of the arm is not an area regularly used so the sensation is what a non-user would regard as normal. So some of our drug users where nervous. We were there to hold people’s hands. Next year we need “I’ve been brave stickers”! Overall it was very successful so all going well we will offer this again next year.

Cooperation & Coordination

Our space is limited at the Salvation Army but we are always very grateful for the wonderful facilities we are able to use. We try to provide outreach as much as possible and statutory organisational support for the people who use our services whenever we can.

The statutory organisations in Newbury are very keen to work with the Soup Kitchen, together we do our best to make a difference. With the relationship that the Soup Kitchen has with MEAMTwo SaintsHealthwatchSwanswell and West Berkshire Council we and the other charities locally are able to see progress with so many vulnerable people in West Berkshire.

Court Case

A client we have not seen for a while came in this evening, his court case has been adjourned again unto November 20th. The date has changed so many times. I hope the letters, Kathryn from Eight Bells and myself wrote to the court will help. His mental health is so much better now, he is vulnerable and does not cope well with being in prison.  He was explaining how hard he is working to stay out of trouble and rebuild his life. He is a different person to the one we met a year or so ago. It is lovely to see people improving their lives and making better choices.

Keeping Calm

We had a bit of an argument starting outside this evening. One client was very angry and verbal outside. Someone had eligibly taken her bottle of cider that she had hidden in a bush. We do not allow alcohol in the Soup Kitchen.  Meryl had to calm her down as she was getting very loud. She did come afterwards to apologise. 

All the volunteers work closely together to convey the same information and advice. Eventually, she left and within a few minutes, it was quiet and calm again. Often people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems have a low tolerance level and loud reaction to situations. These situations can escalate quickly, intervention is important but it has to be done in a calm, safe way to diffuse issues. We always try and discuss the issues with our clients so that they can understand the consequences of their actions. We will always try to avoid calling the police, usually, we can calm situations down easily.

Housing Challenges

We had heard in the week that one of our street homeless was going to Basingstoke as he is not eligible for housing here as he does not have a local connection. He comes from Hampshire.  He was driven to Basingstoke so he could be homeless there and hopefully get support. Within 24 hours he came back after deciding he did not feel safe. 

There are certain rules about facilities available and local connection. This is always difficult for people to accept sometimes especially if they are in this area as they feel safe here or their friends are here or they have ended up here for a specific reason. A person has to stay here 6 months out of 12 so that Richard Cottle, myself or now the new outreach worker from Two Saints can confirm that person has been living in the area if it is a tent.  People in this situation must stay in the area continuously in that six month period. As the winter approaches people will be offered SWEP.

Walk In Donations

We had £70 given to us in cash from two people who came in this evening. £50 from a young boy who came in with his mum. He collected money from friends and he gave some of his birthday money. He also donated some food too, including the first mince pies of the year. A lovely man called John also came in and gave us £20.  They saw the appeal in the NWN this week that mentioned our appeal for meat. As always a massive thank you! Every donation makes a massive difference.

Donations Appeal

There was a great article in the Newbury Weekly News this week. Meryl put an appeal out for donations of certain items as the weather is starting to get cold. Donations come in thick and fast through the Christmas period. Meryl wanted to highlight that “A homeless person is homeless all year round and not just for Christmas”.

We are always very grateful for every donation we get. Christmas is a time that people start to reflect on their own lives and families we all want to help the charities and vulnerable in some way. This help, however, is needed now and all year round. Donations have reduced hugely during the summer. Our rough sleepers still need the items below regardless of the time of year. We are grateful the local community who help so much.

As always our wish list is easy to access and we accept donations into the Salvation Army hall 4.15-5.30pm on a Thursday.

And Finally...

A good session on the whole we thought. Made so much better with the beautiful rainbow. We Thank you all of our volunteers and the people who support who provide continued support and sense of fun and camaraderie. It shows, the clients feel it too, that’s why so many come back.