It is possibly time to do a slightly,in a secular sense of the word, preachy blog post after so many light-hearted ones over the past wee while. I make no apologies for that though since I feel that the following is an important and often less well-known issue. To make up for the seriousness I’ll try to keep it short and you can have the answer to the question in the title at the end.
Loneliness can kill.
It eats away at people, can rob them of confidence and it prevents its victims from moving on with their lives and expressing their potential.
People who have been subject to some sort of socially stigmatised problem like homelessness, long term unemployment or mental health problems often have to deal with loneliness before they can start to work on their self esteem and move into a more positive state of mind which helps them to move on with their lives and hope to become happy and productive members of society.
This is why Souper Saturday focuses on creating a positive, informal and non-judgemental social environment.
We encourage chat and we encourage the playing of board games; our volunteers even try to take part ourselves when the workload allows it, and if guests want to they can hang out at the hatch and blether to us there as we work.
We like to encourage smiles just as much as we like to fill bellies and a Souper Saturday that has less enjoyable food but good laughter is considered more of a success than one where people eat excellent food in a sullen atmosphere.
Take time to offer people a smile and a few words. Maybe even tell them a rubbish joke — it’s difficult to overestimate the positive impact that this could have on somebody’s life!
This week I am delighted to present part two of our souper douper volunteers’ special reports!
This week we have Jenny who, as well as working full-time for Housing Association Dunedin Canmore, comes into Souper Saturday and puts in a fantastic shift to help out with our guests. I met Jenny at running club where she expressed an interest in volunteering and she has take to it like a duck to water: she is fantastic with the guests, has a cheery and fun personality, makes tasty wrap and has only ever had a pineapple on her head that one time! Cheers Jenny!!
I’ve been volunteering at Souper Saturday since March this year and I love it!It’s a non judgemental relaxed gathering of people who for whatever reason could do with the company and or food.Volunteering here is really rewarding.As well as helping to make the soup and sandwiches,dishing out whatever other goodies are available that week and doing the dreaded dishes the volunteers are encouraged to interact and chat with the guests.It never ceases to amaze me what a talented,down to earth and friendly bunch of guests we have each week.
The best thing about Souper Saturday for me is when you get the chance to speak to the guests and find out how they’re doing.Personal highlights of my experience so far is being taught how to play chess, hearing about how one of our regular guests completed the Edinburgh half marathon in an amazing time and listening to another of our regular guests who is classically trained on the piano.
I would encourage anyone who has a bit of spare time on a Saturday to come along for themselves if interested in volunteering with Edinburgh’s homeless community.They really are an incredible bunch!
Today I am pleased to announce part one of a new semi-regular feature where our volunteers tell you about their experiences with Souper Saturday.
First off we have Steven, who has, rather splendidly, taken it on a surreal and extremely creative direction.
Mark asked me to write a piece, so that is what I’ll do;
You can read it if you want, and try work out what’s true.
I started at Mark’s soup kitchen, in January this year;
With my wooden leg and parrot asking “gee’s a gottle of geer”.
I first met mark at the soup van, of Bethany Christian Trust;
As into my outstretched hand, a flyer he did thrust.
I liked him in a second flat, I thought ‘a lovely codger’;
I got my ship and sailed it there, and waved my Jolly Roger.
“Ooh aarrgh” I said when at St. John’s,
that’s where Mark hangs out;
That’s all I managed as on the way, I contracted gout!
When I first came to volunteer, it was just me and Mark;
Others have joined, and some survive, (the rest got too close to the shark!)
Chess is offered, and lovely soup, Connect 4 and a laugh;
With Jenny, Helen, Jess and Mark, one couldn’t ask for better staff.
Travelling away from land, across the seven seas;
I’ve been to many soup kitchens, but this one’s the bees knees.
With my eye patch, metal sword, and tied at the back bandana;
They still pump me full of bread, and an occasional banana.
So as my parrot falls asleep, and starts to snore aloud;
I’ll end by saying to volunteer here, it makes me very proud.
ps. Spoiler alert: all the pirate stuff may have been false
One of our regulars has recently completed the Edinburgh Festival Half Marathon in the superbly impressive time of 1hr 50mins and 51seconds.
Below are some photos of Kevin before and after his astounding achievement.
I cannot tell you how proud I am of him – he has come so far in his development since we first met him
I would love to be able to take credit for that, but I can’t: Kevin is the only one who deserves to wallow in the glory here.
Well done man, we are all proud of you
Excuse me if I get a few (or many) of the details wrong, but this week’s Souper Saturday was dominated by number theory and I only managed to pass Intermediate Two Maths.
It all started with Ian posing a dilemma:
Say you have two children and one apple. then each child receives half an apple.
We can all work out the logic behind that.
But let’s say you have one apple and zero children.
How many apples does each child receive in that scenario?
Not so easy, huh!?
Apparently, it is infinite apples.
The photos of the board show our working,
The moral of the story is that if you think that soup kitchens are all about defeated addicts queuing for their daily sustenance before going off to sniff their glue or what have you, then please feel free to think again.
Often people who are forced to sleep rough have , in the recent past, been you or me. They have had a career, they have had a family and they have had a mortgage.
We are all two pay cheques and/or one car accident away from the streets.
Souper Saturday needs of money and volunteers to survive. Male volunteers are especially welcome given that we currently have three female and one male volunteer yet 90% of homeless people are single men.
Our paypal is in a previous post, please donate if you can, we love donors almost as much as we love volunteers!