I wasn't going to go on the soup run last night. I thought I should really do some dissertation writing instead.
However, I have begun to realise going on the soup run is as beneficial to me as it is to the people we serve. After spending a day sitting at a computer, to get outside in the evening to meet new people and do something practical is an enjoyable break. I find the whole experience exhilarating.
When we are preparing the food and gathering toiletries to hand out I often think, 'I need some toothpaste...' I have to remind myself, 'No...you're a student...not homeless.'
Volunteering reminds me why I am doing the project. Without taking photographs, without recording people's stories, just listening and spending time with people means I am practicing what I preach. And I love it!
When we arrived they were about 60 people. It was a busy night and there was a great buzz!
I was handing out sandwiches. I find it funny how picky people are when they are getting free food.
"Can I have brown bread"
"Can I have egg instead of tuna, it's a bit lighter on the stomach."
"Can I have a chocolate bourbon biscuit?...What do you mean you don't have any...that's a disgrace"
I girl walked up to me and starred, I said:
"Would you like a sandwich?"
"Yeah, ham, cheese and egg."
"Sorry, you're only allowed one each."
" but I just arrived."
I gave her three.
There was a tall, black, slim lady, probably in her 20s. I don't know why but she seemed so much older than me. Her voice, her stance, her confidence. She made me feel like a little girl. I think it's because when she speaks she doesn't smile.
Now that I think about it. Most people, when asking for a sandwich would smile as they say it. Or their tone of voice would go higher. Her's didn't.
I heard a tall camp man say, "Oh they are giving out bread rolls! I must get some bread rolls!"
As I was walking around with my bag of tuna sandwiches a man complimented my hair. I offered him a sandwich. He started talking about star signs. He says he has come across Libra's before...apparently I'm balanced. The man said he used to be a plumber, but he lost his driving license, and he can't carry all of his tools. He says he has two weeks to wash out all the toxins in his body to pass his blood test. I asked him how he was going to do that. He said drink water and eat protein. He said he was embarrassed to be eating from the soup run, because in reality he can afford a tin of beans, he just can't be bothered to cook them. I said there was nothing to be embarrassed about, it's a great place to meet new people. He agreed. He wanted to know what age I was. I told him to guess. He said 34.
He tried to rectify the situation and said 19. The damage was already done.
His friends came over and said, "Just get her number and you two can sort it out between yourselves."
I offered the friend a sandwich.
He left, after giving me an awkward kiss on both cheeks.
I met the man who had been on Britain's got Talent. He says he is going to be on it again this year. He said he had been with a girl who looked like me yesterday. Same height, same hair, but apparently she looked quite young, like a teenager.
A young guy was very restless waiting for 10:00pm. He would not stay still. He was waiting to get a train at 10:00 to Bolton for a house party, he was going to return the following afternoon. He really did live for a friday night! He said he was summoned to attend. His teeth were black.
An old man approached me. This conversation lasted for about 10 minutes.
He said, "Do you want me to save plastic bags and bring them next week for you?"
I replied, "Oh I think we're ok for plastic bags. But thank you."
He said, "I used to volunteer for cafe charity, and I always saved plastics bags. But I quit for private reasons and since then I havn't been saving my plastic bags. If I had of known, I would have saved my plastic bags for you."
I replied, "No really, don't worry about it, I think we have plenty of plastic bags."
He said, "They will be from asda, if that's ok?"
I replied, "Yes! Lovely, plastic bags from asda would be great, thank you very much."
He said, "No problem."
I have no idea how that conversation got turned around.
A young guy came over to me:
He said, "Do you remember me?"
I replied, "Of course I do, I met you at the day centre, I saw you in the car the other week and I saw you on the news!"
I asked him why he was on the news?
He said, "because I have been homeless for 14 months."
Granada Report : Kevin
Kevin is waiting for his pregnant girlfriend to get out of jail so they can get a flat together.
He had a fishing rod with him, he bought it for £20.
I saw him on my way home.
He jumped out in front of me for a laugh.
I thought I had died.
He is a really nice friendly guy.
You start to build friendships but you have to keep your distance for safety reasons.
A lady brought a dog with her. I love dogs. I wanted to give him food. My leaders said, "that's why she has brought the dog, to get more food."
I see a prostitute storming off screaming about something. Apparently one of the prostitutes is a bully and took her money.
On the way back my leader told me sometimes women carry babies, uncovered, in the winter months to get more sympathy and food.