On this coming week’s “to do list” is to update the Southend where to go for help if you are a rough sleeper leaflet, the latest electronic version being available on the SHAN webpage. The challenge when it comes to presenting information on available helps or resources, in all sorts of areas, especially to do with human need, has long interested me and it is something I have been able to help with in the past. I have long felt finding out where help is available is often an essential question, especially when it comes to homelessness, and is often an important step toward empowering people so they can help themselves. As those who work in these various areas, where getting the right help is important, know, “things” come and things go and often they undergo change in the meantime, meaning that to be effective not only is there the task to be undertaken of gathering, presenting and communicating information but also of keeping it up to date. I am pleased to say that while there are gaps in services and unmet needs there is also a lot out there to help most people.
With all this in mind, I decided I needed to find out more about what the latest new kids on the block were up to – those folk who help to run the Warrior Square Soup Kitchen, which operates each week, Monday and Friday, from around 7pm in the Warrior Square area of Southend giving out food and drink in much the same way a similar operation I am involved with does – Street Spirit. Not only was I keen to find out more about the service that is now being offered, and has been for the past few months, but also to check out how I might be able to help and link this to what else is going on in Southend. My mantra when it comes to homelessness is the needs are big and there is room for more who wish to help and ideally we need to work smart and together and look out for one another, knowing working with folk with complex needs can be draining. With all this in mind and having made contact with the organizers, I popped along yesterday, with an open mind as to what I might find.
And, kudos to the folk that help out in this operation, I found that they are doing a good job. They seem to be running a good operation – empathetic yet firm. It was a fine evening with lots of folk milling around. I suppose there were 20-30 “guests” when I arrived a little later and they were all well fed. The atmosphere was calm and mainly friendly, although there was a significant amount of intoxication among individuals. Many of the guests I knew already, including their circumstances, which was mainly around being homeless and, if not homeless, in need of the sort of help that was being provided. I was able to speak to some of the guests and meet new folk. One fascinating conversation was with someone who had come from a similar church background to my own and whose theological understanding was greater than many Christians, yet who had “needs”. It was good chatting to the folk helping out too.
I wish Warrior Square Soup Kitchen well. I cannot do anything other than commend the compassion and commitment that has led not just to starting this work but keeping going for the long haul. I concur there is a need and continue to be humbled when I keep coming across folk prepared to go that extra mile to meet that need. For any who are interested in helping, and help is needed, come along or check out their Facebook page. While there is much still to do, especially when it comes to the often unmet need of providing suitable accommodation for the homeless and the right sort of help, I am glad that people like these folk are making such a difference.