Lots of behind the scenes "stuff" has been happening in the last couple of weeks, so blogs have been sporadic - sorry! Our Victoria Soup Run is getting busy again - Winter night shelters have closed, new people are presenting as homeless and some people have lost their hostel places... We are regularly seeing over 50 people per night. 😢 Last week we were joined by Jacqui, Judah & Cadi (from Medway) - a great team, who work efficiently and have tremendous compassion. The guys from GO GYM in Westminster jogged along (literally) to make sandwiches, we also had Macaroni cheese, pizza slices, soup, chocolate cake and buttered hot cross buns. At our first stop it seemed fairly quiet, but it gave us chance to catch up properly with people As we served people a young lad, last seen in the Charing Cross area in the summer (and who we always looked for when on outreach up there) appeared - he had been on the south coast for the winter, but has recently done a referral for Emmaus (and is now waiting for a place ) & had decided to come back to London for a while - he knew where we would be in a Wednesday and headed straight to Victoria ! Mike, Darren and myself were all pretty emotional to see him! And so pleased he is making moves to get off the streets. One gentleman was very distressed because all if his belongings had been taken earlier in the day - we were able to calm him down, make sure he had some food, and give him a bag of clothing, toiletries and sleeping bag . On the way to our second stop, more people were given food and hot drinks. At the second stop we were very busy - in the last couple of months only 3 or 4 people have been sleeping there - last week there were 13! Several newly homeless guys were cold and hungry - warm clothing and bedding were distributed, along with food and a chat. - we ran out of sleeping bags, so Mike returned on Thursday evening with more for those without. A suspected case of TB, someone being kicked in the head as they slept, and someone else having vinegar thrown in their eyes were just some of the stories we heard. Cadi spent a long time chatting to a foreign gentleman - in a mixture of Italian, German and his native tongue !! At the third stop we saw the guy who used to work with Darren - he always asks after him, and is amazingly polite - it's hard to comprehend how differently 2 lives with seemingly the same opportunity, have become so different.
The mini-food give away on a Friday is becoming increasingly popular & the feedback we (and City Harvest who provide the food) are getting is humbling. Mike is also distributing food parcels to some of our ex-homeless friends, - we now have a close line of communication with the William Gibbs Centre who regularly let Mike know if anyone is on need.