We had 44 clients in tonight and it was a good session. We were low on volunteers as a few volunteers were unable to come last minute due to work commitments. It did leave us short but luckily nothing happened that we couldn’t manage.
This was all exacerbated by terrible problems with the Paddington train line and an accident on the M4, which caused tail backs so Newbury was at a standstill. As we open at 6pm it is in the middle of the rush hour so this heavily affects volunteers.
Some volunteers who were not on the rota this week came in late to fill gaps and help make everything run smoothly, they even came in at the end to help clear up to boost help!
Henry and Joes restaurant cooked an Italian sausage and tomato sauce, which we served with pasta and French bread. We had broccoli and Stilton Soup for first course, which went down very well. It is the first time we have done this and we were unsure what the reaction to Stilton would be but it was very positive.
We had a wonderful festive Cranberry and Blueberry Tart that we had with custard. Victoria one of our kitchen volunteers described it as Christmas in a bowl.
Why do people become homeless or street homeless?
Christmas sees homelessness get increased airtime, but for rough sleepers, the struggle is all year round.
An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK as of beginning December 2019 according to the latest research by Shelter. This equates to one in every 201 British and was an increase of four per cent on the previous year’s number.
Rough sleepers are just the visible tip of the iceberg when it comes to registering and understanding the homelessness crisis. The widening net of poverty and the strain on mental health services means these numbers will potentially grow. It is estimated that in this country on a typical night in the U.K. between 4,000 and 5,000 are sleeping out on the streets. This is a figure that has almost doubled since 2010.
In addition, there are an uncertain number of hidden homeless people who are unknown to authorities, staying with relatives or friends, sofa surfing or sleeping in cars or the countryside, places often official counts do not cover.
There has been a renewed focus on homelessness this year. People are talking about it, taking part in charity fundraisers and moving it up the political agenda – it is no surprise. Locally our numbers have reduced due to a lot of hard work and commitment from charities and organisations. As common a sight as Christmas shoppers on our high streets are rough sleepers huddled in doorways across the country.
With the turn of temperatures and the Christmas light twinkling in the high street we look forward to spending time with our families, swapping presents and enjoying wonderful festive food…. spare a thought.
While some may be dreaming of a White Christmas, there will be many who are less fortunate just want a warm one, and there are many opportunities out there to help them. For example certain charities can provide hot, nutritious Christmas dinners, practical advice, healthcare, accommodation and learning opportunities to a homeless person.
Christmas is known as “The Season of Goodwill” since the well-known Dickens story of Scrooge, depicting selfishness turning into kindness and a change of heart. However are most of us guilty of forgetting and moving on from the festive cheer and kindness to all man the rest of the year?
But we must also remember that helping others should not solely be a festive activity. Charities need support year-round, so donating regularly to their cause by a simple standing order to spread a cost, becoming a volunteer, buying requested items regularly to a cause of your choice or taking part or organising bigger activities that raise funds are all ways to make a more enduring impact, before the ghosts of the Christmas past come back to haunt us, and it’s far too late.
This time of year we are inundated with requests from the public to volunteer Christmas Day and days around the Festive Period. Unfortunately we have to turn people away and we apologise for that but want to explain. The Soup Kitchen is not open Christmas or Boxing Day this year. We have plans for Christmas Day and we are pleased to say that our volunteer rota is full.
It is also important that volunteers go through vetting and training procedures, they are Enhanced DBS checked (for vulnerable adults), we do not allow volunteers to come into the sessions until these procedures have taken place so this rules out people volunteering for one day a year.
During the Summer months the charities are can be forgotten, homelessness is forgotten. July, August, September while holiday excitement is around us all donations and requests of volunteering virtually dry up. Why is that?
The heat for some is harder to live in a tent than the cold; blisters, dehydration, sunburn and mosquitos. Temperatures inside a tent can be up to 50 degrees so a person has to risk their safety to sleep outside, as it is too hot to be inside.
We feed lots of people every week and we provide outreach and support throughout the year outside and during our different weekly sessions. Homelessness is here everyday, Christmas is not. Our work to support and help all the rough sleepers, homeless and vulnerable in our community will continue tirelessly throughout the year regardless of the season.
We are however very very thankful for all donations that we receive regardless of the time of year. Generosity of the Community is a welcomed and a wonderful thing. Spreading that generosity throughout the year will provide help that people need and crave to go some way to keeping their dignity and respect.
We should not stop fighting for them once the Christmas lights have been turned off as homelessness sadly at the moment is here to stay.
We are really pleased to announce that our Wednesday sessions are expanding to incorporate Community Nurses and Community Dentists. Hopefully clients who come to see one can be encourages to engage to see the other. Funding for services like this are not taken for granted. In order to keep funding we have to signpost clients to these services and hopefully we will get busier every week. The signs are very very positive and the desperate need for these services becoming very apparent.
We are organising more support and advocacy during our Wednesday 2-4pm session so please watch this space.
We have had a few problems with our Good Exchange payments as the payment has been buffering and not going through. Please ensure you use the link below.
We are lucky to receive Match Funding at present from Greenham Trust. This will double your donation.
Cheques can be made out to Newbury Soup Kitchen and cash be dropped off on a Wednesday 2-4pm or Thursdays 4-5.30pn.
We enjoyed our day in Northbrook Street this week to raise funds. Volunteers wrapped up warm and showed complete dedication to a cause they hold dear. We are so happy to have them as part of the team, our Soup Kitchen family.