On Wednesdays, soup is available at lunchtime for people living on the streets food. We know they feel starving hungry by Wednesday evenings will not eat until our Thursday evening meal is served. Since we opened the Foodshare Market on Wednesday nights, we have invited the people who are homeless to get some food, but they have been nervous, worrying they may be taking advange. This is a message from one of our volunteers at the Foodshare market last night, a Wednesday.
"Tonight is one of the reasons I volunteer at the foodbank, really feel we all made a difference. About 11 or 12 homeless turned up asking for food. It was wonderful serving them and offering them what they wanted. They were all starving."Debbie Gee
Last night's Homeless Meal started off quite subdued and with a mildly agitated feel. By the time our guests had eaten, the place become contented and with a chatty buzz. One guest rubbed his tummy with a smile and told us this was the first food he had eated all day.
I wanted to tell you what an interesting and eye opening evening I have had at St Joseph's Church for the homeless meals. What an incredible set up. I really admire all of the volunteers and think it is such a worthwhile and important thing you are all doing providing a safe place for the people I met to come and eat. I feel very inspired!Chloe F, researching poverty
A lady walked in off the street last Saturday morning, during the distributions, to find out what we do. When we told her, she immediately reached into her bag and donated £100 in cash. And her 8 year old daughter smiled when she did so, and she led her daughter out the back entrance because she did not want any special attention.
Joan described a conversation she had with one of our recipients. "She started crying, and nearly started me off too. She thought she was on her own and would not be able to receive food".Joan Thompson, Trustee
"Without your food vouchers, my wife and I do not eat for two days each week, so we can scrape together enough food for the kids to eat."R.R, Maidenhead
I’d just like to say that I distributed food to [a number of] people this week who were so incredibly grateful for the food, and surprised by the quantity. Tears welled up in one lady’s eyes. Another said, “I’ll have more than soup to live on now.”Nick Lowe, Minister, Boyn Hill Baptist Church
"Passing on our Government fuel payment: your need is greater. Thanks for what you do."Message attached to a donation for Foodshare
My son's father walked out on us leaving us huge debts. All my appliances are broken. I need to spend any money I have on a cooker and fridge. Without Foodshare, I would not have money to be able to eat.A Foodshare guest on the Ann Diamond show, BBC Radio Berkshire
One of our clients tonight, didn't come last week (his first) and also didn't use his fresh veg voucher from last week. When I asked him why he didn't at least get his fresh food, he said "Embarrassment. I took the voucher to the stall and walked up and down past it a few times, but felt too embarrassed to go in and actually use it".
Another person is someone who has been working from home doing sewing, but all her jobs have just dried up so she has had to finally ask for help. She also was acutely embarrassed but she stayed for a cuppa and I was able to put her on a separate table and chat quietly to her. I did stress that this help is given with love and friendship.
Two other clients refused a drink but stayed for quite some time chatting, because it was warm inside the church.
Another told us that there was himself, his partner and their 5 month old daughter and they are keeping the baby warm by candlelight because they can't afford the electricity.EMail from a Foodshare volunteer distributing food from Boyne Hill Church
"It was quite busy [today] and I was making and serving the teas and coffees, there seemed to be a good rapport between the guests who seemed very comfortable chatting to each other, one gentleman was extremely grateful for the "very strong tea" he asked for and indeed enjoyed a second cup, it appeared that he was living "rough" and the tea was welcomed to "warm him up".
I was saddened to see such a range of age groups from young mums with several children to the elderly, both ladies and gentlemen, and to single young men and ladies. Although it was rewarding to meet the people we are trying to help, it was daunting to realise how many people need this help, I will definitely be adding items to my shopping each week to donate."EMail from a Foodshare volunteer distributing food from the Foodshare Centre
Just to let you know that D. came back to our hall tonight looking for somewhere to stay. He managed to stay with a friend last night but has nothing again now. We gave him a sleeping bag and sent him on his way. So if you here of anything let me know. He may turn up again. D. is 19 and was chucked out of home some time ago by his step father. It's a similar story to quite a few others I've heard over the last couple of years. Must say I'm not feeling good that we didn't do better for him tonight.EMail sent to us by Graham Gray at the Salvation Army
A young man asked for bedding at last night's homeless meal. He was young and scared, having never experienced sleeping rough before. We think he had been thrown out of his home by his parents. He had nothing to shelter him from last night's cold and rain. The bedding he had been using had been removed by the Council after complaints from neighbours that people were sleeping rough. People who sleep rough have no-where to store bedding during the day. He tells us he had been to the Council to ask for shelter, or B&B. They told him they had nothing for him. He had refused to leave until they had found him somewhere to stay. He says their response was to call the police to eject him. What is someone without a home supposed to do to stay alive, when society deprives them of the last means of shelter?
"The food parcels our clients receive from Foodshare are essential as otherwise many of them would not eat much, if at all"A Maidenhead Charity
One of our Trustees noted : "Sad to see that young teenager J who is living in a tent near the river is still coming. He is always polite and gentle natured. When I first met him a couple of months ago he seemed shellshocked and traumatised and sat alone not making eye contact with anyone. Now he sits with the others and chats and seems more outgoing. I dont know which is worse. It's sad to think he is getting used to a homeless way of life. He said that he had no expectations of resolving his homelessness situation in the foreseeable future. Managable whilst the weather isnt too bad, but God help him when winter comes."
AB wrote to us : "I personally can't abide that thought that people a farily affluent town in Berkshire in 2013 have to rely on help to put food on the table but I know it does and I admire you all for the work you do. I hope this small contribution helps."Thanks AB. You put it really well. We are so focused on feeding people, that every contribution helps. We appreciate your support. Support from the community is what makes the food available to those who need it.
David was exctatic he got a job after looking for over two years. His benefts stopped immediately, but he was not going to be paid until the end of the month. Without our food, he said, he was not going to be able to eat.
I met James the young lad sleeping in a tent near the river tonight at sandwich run. Very sad. He is so nice and so vulnerable. He did say his mum was doing his laundry but he had his first shower in a while at the SA tonight. Absolutely heartbreaking to see a young lad so alone and frightened.What else can we do?
We have joined together with the Mosque, to support their feeding the needy during Ramadan. What lovely people they are.
Our new Community Meals is starting to take off. We have been cooking for families in the community who are unable to eat properly. Sad to see quite how many kids are coming, but lovely that there is somewhere for them to come to eat. People were wary for the first couple of meals, with only a handful of people coming. Now we are feeding upwards of 60 people each session.
The homeless meal went especially well tonight. Our cooks found an incredible deal on beef, and the meal was topped off with an Indian Restaurant bringing a huge batch of exquisite somosas and pecoras for our guests. A number of teenagers, freezing and ravenously hungry, felt much happier at the end of the meal than at the beginning. One sad aspect was one of the teenagers asking us for a sleeping bag. We did not have any, which meant he was going to have to try to sleep tonight without any shelter whatsoever from the cold.
Abbvie Pharmaceuticals donated some of the cutest golden chocolate Easter Egg bunnies, with jangling bells. The shelters we support who house kids were absolutely thrilled to be able to give them out.
It was bitterly cold on the night. The Council had offered some shelter in Slough to anyone sleeping rough. I spoke with one of our homeless guests. He had not taken up the offer of shelter. He was clearly depressed. He had been involved in a separation from his wife, and fell apart. He left everything to her and his six year old son, and just walked out with nothing. He ended up on the streets. He had been looking for work, but his mind was not in the right place. He had not taken up shelter because he could not get his head around the concept of having to leave Maidenhead and potentially not being able to see his son. He is constantly on the lookout for shelter from the freezing winds and ice on the ground. He is aware he is not thinking rationally, but he is just not able to cope. He said there are between 10 and 15 people he knows of sleeping rough at the moment. I asked him about food. He said that, thanks to the charities, he is able to get food every day. He gave a particular thumbs up to Open Kitchen with its meals and Foodshare, Maidenhead Synagogue and the Salvation Army.
We had organised to give out presents to our homeless guests at Christams, but they ended up in the wrong place. We gave them out at the meal before Easter. Because the weather is still so cold, the guests were thrilled with the leather gloves and warm hats and scarves. Our female guests were especially happy with the make up and toiletries. It is nice being able to bring joy and love to people living on the streets.
To add to their misery, society heaps humiliation on people in poverty. Someone came to collect food last night for the first time. It is the third he had been given a voucher. We asked him why he had not come the previous weeks. He said he had been reluctant to stop at all. He then privately admitted extreme embarrassment at having to get this help, which was why he had not come the other two weeks. Our lovely Eileen listened caringly and sensitively, and invited him next week to stay for a drink and a bite.
Boyn Hill Baptist Church became a new place for receivers of Foodshare to collect their food. Eileen spoke to one of the receivers last night, a Monday. She told us, "He walked through the pouring rain from his flat down in the town to get to us as since Thursday he has survived on 2 cans of soup only. He had nothing at all to eat yesterday."
- "The meals provided are nutritious and have been accessible when needed, as otherwise I would struggle to afford this type of food."
- "The children enjoy and are grateful for the meals and desserts."
- "I sometimes do not know what I would have done without these meals as I was really depressed when I first arrived in refuge and I did not have the energy let alone the motivation to cook for myself or my children, these really helped . We value this type of support and enjoy the meals provided by you all"
Within the last week, we have just delivered our 60,000th meal to people in need.
"Many thanks for the wonderful food donation. We have 31 children living here with their parents. You all do an amazing amount of work"
Email from a shelter for homeless families with young children.
We took soup ingredients and a recipe to Frogmore Court for the homeless teenager to make soup for themselves. Dawn M went along to show them how to cook it. It went well. Soup provides nutrients the teenagers generally lack. Learning how to make soup provides the teeangers with a great skill for their and their future family's health.
Chloe N is taking the crockery she is replacing to the East Berkshire Women's Aid shelter. Each time a family leaves the shelter to start their new lives, they have to start a new house from scratch. They love donations of crockery, cuttlery, kettles, cooking equipment and other household items.
We started sending food to two shelters, one for teenagers and the other families with very young children, who otherwise would be homeless. They sent us this email.
"I can hardly find the words to thank you and your team for the wonderful work you have carried out at my Services, My staff team and I were completely overwhelmed at the donations you gave to the people in our services these past few weeks, in these times of hardship for so many the generosity that has been shown has been staggering. We asked the parents to come to the office the following day and each select some gifts they can use for their children and collected the food you so kindly donated. The families were delighted and somewhat overwhelmed at the generosity.
My heartfelt thanks go to you all. From my staff teams and myself, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year."
Mandy, Frogmore Court and Wellesley House