We had a great soup-run in Leeds last night. Our purpose is to provide a good atmosphere for people who are out on the streets –not to attract people to the streets. The food we offer, from our perspective is a means to an end – we are not trying to feed the hungry but to engage the disengaged!
Once we have the right people there the idea is to have a pleasant and welcoming environment where anyone who attends feels valued and listened to. From this point we can then signpost people to appropriate services.
Last night I had two great conversations; one with a guy who is living in a hostel and really starting to struggle with coping with life in there. An hour of listening to his concerns about what his life had been in the past and what it is at present and some questions about what he wanted changed his focus from ‘sacking off the hostel and going back to rough sleeping’, to feeling able to speak to his key-worker about his worries and trying to make the placement work.
Another guy had gone into a mental health crisis a couple of days before and was feeling lost under the weight of his own anxiety and the complexity of 3 different services that were trying to meet his needs. A long chat that switched from very serious consideration of his own mental health to ‘banter’, sport and taking the mick out of just how green our soup was, worked well for him. All I had to provide was a straight man role for the banter and some genuine interest in his challenges. He clearly needed to talk to someone who overtly had no agenda; just wanted to listen. He obviously felt better for it and seemed to have started to make sense of his own feelings.
It was a fantastic evening: great company, great banter and great opportunities to encourage some people with some tough challenges to find ways forward that might just work for them.
I love my Job!