My name is Meryl Praill and I am a mother of three children. Over the last four years I have been volunteering for the Foodbank in Newbury. Through that I have established some relationships with many of the homeless in and around the area. I became aware that two days a week they were not being fed at all. I approached the Salvation Army and asked if I could set up a Soup Kitchen. At that point I had absolutely no experience with mental health, addictions or homelessness. All I could bring to the venture was love, compassion, friendship and support in a non-judgemental way, like a mother!
As a result we have been running since January 19th 2017. We fed 45 people last week, a mixture of homeless and vulnerable (living in council hostels, housing benefit and lonely). Our food comes from Waitrose, Co-op on the A4 in Newbury, Pret a manger, Greggs, Foodbank, Aldi and Lidl. One of our clients have told me that we are the “Highlight of his week”!
I have managed to get two people off the streets, I personally mentor a 26yr old lad who I found homeless a year ago. He is doing really well now.
I have an AMAZING team of volunteers who I could not do without. We are open Thursday evenings 6-8pm. We are constantly in need of sleeping bags, double skinned tents, rucksacks, flasks and groundsheets. To make it easy for people to make contributions, we have a wish list on Amazon.