Visit From Richard Benyon MP

A session this evening full of emotions and surprises. We welcomed 40 people this evening which I was surprised about given how cold and windy it was. Eight volunteers telephoned and unable to come in, so thank you to Christine and Richard who dropped everything last minute literally to come and help. We were panicking a bit as at 5.15pm. I think there were five of us volunteers.

It has been C’s birthday recently, so we sang happy birthday. I’m not sure how happy he was about it but he did blow his candle out with a smile.

One of our young ladies came in who I thought had somewhere to live, but alas no. She is working hard in a food company but she may lose her job as they do not like employing someone who is homeless due to hygiene reasons. This would be a real shame if she was to lose her job.

Jan made homemade tomato soup from a huge supply of tomatoes we were given from Waitrose last week with fresh bread rolls. We are starting to cook fresh food too so slowly the clients are coming off Pot Noodles and tinned food a bit. They still like their beans in toast however.

Some of the clients are now finding the Soup Kitchen to ne a little noisy now it has become so popular. We had Jenga out tonight which did not help, but it was great to see people like ‘J’ who has been so problematic in the past enjoying himself so much. Actually he refused food as he said that he had already eaten at the accommodation he is staying in. He comes for the social side. I think Mai-Britt liked it too!

A lady called Emma popped in with a tent, who is a registered nurse. She is going to come on board as our regular first aider which is amazing. It will mean if we need to call 112 we will not need a hour and a half triage like the situation Mai-Britt had the other week with a client. As Emma is qualified she will be able to insist she needs to speak to a doctor immediately if necessary.

Finally we had an unexpected guest in that Richard Benyon came in to say hello. That proved to amuse the both clients and volunteers no end, given the article in the Newbury Weekly News this week regarding a hoax Just Giving page to fund a second hand bicycle after his driving ban! Richard was charming and very keen to have a chat with clients and volunteers alike. He asked me if there were any jobs he could do. I did suggest he went to see Jan to get a tray of sandwiches to hand around. He wasn’t lynched, but there were plenty of quips about his transport issues and whether he needed a bed in the night shelter if he couldn’t get home! He sat and talked to many people so I’m pleased with that.

I am still looking for more legal support, we have a client facing eviction and will end up homeless, she is very vulnerable. Others also need benefit support and someone to be a second voice for them. I am building a team of people to support the Soup Kitchen and my clients in the background but it is not enough, so please get in touch if you can help. They can’t all fight their own battles.