Fourth Monday in the month, and it’s my turn at Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen. Manager lets me in, informing me that he is wearing a stab vest as one of the guests is going to be banned. While I have heard of knife crime, this is my first close experience of it. The tables are all laid, manager is giving some guidance to two new volunteers, and the head chef is ready in the kitchen.
Ten minutes later, holding a white C5 envelope addressed to A Guest, manager and I march up the steps where the young man concerned is sitting on a low wall with his rucksack, listening to something on his headphones. He is handed the letter, informed that the management committee has banned him and that he is not to come in. This apparently stems from an earlier incident where he was playing loud music, and did not want to put on his headphones. His reaction to this was a ten minute rant which upset a lot of guests. Some of our guests are vulnerable people, and abuse is not tolerated.
Manager’s stab vest cost £300, paid for by the soup kitchen. Cheaper ones are available at at £70 but these are not needle proof – and our manager was actually stabbed last year. Checking twice later during the evening, the young man concerned has disappeared. Rest of the evening was pleasant, and we probably gave out 50 meals (including takeaways) for about 40 guests.
Just before serving, two ladies went to Gail’s Bakery in Muswell Hill and brought back three bags of pastries, which we had to give out gradually. Put them out at first, and they will be grabbed in two minutes, and not much of the freshly-cooked soup and pasta will be eaten. There was a huge container of left-over pasta when we left. Other businesses, supermarkets and individuals similarly support the soup kitchen, which works five days a week – Sunday to Thursday.
If YOU want to Volunteer, there are several ways to start:
- your local church will know what charities need volunteers. My local one is one of several churches and a synagogue, and our night is fourth Monday of the month.
- Do a Google search with your post code
- Approach a charity directly – working in an area in which you are interested.
This will involve some training and may involve a DBS check. Some charities may only have one training period a month, so it may take some time before you start. You will meet some very nice people, and be part of a large hidden army.