This week we were particularly busy, for the second time a lovely GP from Wargrave Surgery came to give the second Astra Zeneca vaccine to our clients. It was a bit chaotic when he arrived trying to sort out all the paperwork while our volunteers took charge to ensure everyone queued with their consent forms. The clinic was for second vaccinations mainly but unfortunately some people did not turn up. It is reported that the Astra Zeneca first vaccine is about 70% effective so one vaccine is better than nothing. It will be a challenge to ensure everyone receives a second vaccine, but it is important at least as many people as possible receive their first. The uptake was better than we suspected, and many people not only arrived for their second vaccine people still had their vaccine card too.
Experts say that people who sleep in shelters or on the streets already have lower life expectancy, suffer from addiction, and have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk should they develop COVID-19. There are just so many competing and unmet needs, which makes it much harder for homeless to contend with all of this. If exposed, people experiencing homelessness might be more susceptible to illness or death due to the prevalence of underlying physical and mental medical conditions and a lack of reliable and affordable health care. Outreach clinics such as this along with the extra clinics with the community nurses and eye health on a Tuesday will we hope to support our clients and give them the opportunity to ask questions and make informed decisions about their health.
This week we welcomed a couple of our volunteers back who have been shielding. With both vaccinations and that we are continuing to stay outside to provide our food and outreach it was agreed that it is now safe enough. Every volunteer makes the decision when they want to come back and we absolutely keep their roles open to them until they are ready to return.
The menu this week was freshly cooked tomato soup, shepherd’s pie and chocolate sponge and custard. During the course of the hour, we gave out 46 meals. Even the GP took a meal home as he was going to be home late as he had another vaccine clinic to do after ours. It is incredible to think that his practice alone has administered 30,000 vaccinations. Not including that their general load has gone up 60% many have had little time off since the start of the Pandemic. We know this with the work we have being doing, our workload has gone up and there has been very little let up for the people running Newbury Soup Kitchen. Social care has been hit hard and people working within any social care role are exhausted.
Kate completed lots of haircuts, the word is definitely getting round that she was back. After so long they were not just a trim, so she worked continuously through the session.
There were a lot of people drinking sat on the bench by the bins in a row chatting, drinking and laughing loudly. For some members of the public, we can see it could be intimidating. Now the weather is getting better and many of our clients are drinking a lot of the day we need to try to discourage drinking and large groups gathering. It felt a bit uneasy at times, but this is why we have the volunteer numbers we do. We can keep an eye on what is going on and encourage people to disperse and not drink outside the hall. We will continue to work on this throughout the months ahead.
On Tuesday the eye health and HOLT clinic went very well. We had seven people turn up to see the nurses and/or have an eye test. Of the six people that had an eye test all need to have further investigation and consultations in order to get NHS glasses. One of our homeless clients has always worked so not entitled to NHS care. Valerie Jerome Optometrists can source frames from a collection of donated frames she has, and she can get the lenses from a company willing to do it for charity. This is a great service that covers NHS and non-NHS care. We are very pleased to have the eye health clinic on a weekly basis.
It was a lovely evening especially with the sunshine. We do not think many people would have had a vaccine by a river in the sun.
We have updated our Amazon Wishlist http://tinyurl.com/6v4z3lju which has items that we use every week for the sessions and also with items that support the council and hostel outreach workers who can come to our new unit and help themselves to anything they need for vulnerable people we all work with. People who have been housed still need ongoing support we regularly put items on the list too. Collaboration is key and now we have storage and facilities in one place we can do this more effectively. Your donations matter and make a difference to people’s lives.
Our project on The Good Exchange is over for now but we are putting one together and that will be up on the site soon.
Facebook has a donation button which is at the top of this link and you can reach our Just Giving donation page here. http://www.justgiving.com/haven-westberkshire
Cheques can be posted to
Newbury Soup Kitchen
C/o HAVEN (West Berkshire)
1 Hambridge Lane,
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