I’m not in early to cook today but when I arrive at noon, I can smell roast chicken wafting in from the kitchen…one of the meals the women have asked for.
Rachel takes us volunteers through the briefing before we open. There’s a few women who we’re particularly hoping to see. We get names and descriptions; maybe they’ll show up. Last week there were some incidents both in and out of drop-in and we need to be clear about what’s ok and what’s not.
It’s 12.30 the door buzzes, someone checks the CCTV, the door is opened and several women stream in shouting greetings, demanding and coffee with five sugars! It’s impossible to predict how many women will turn up, and the general mood it is so variable. It can feel very heavy and sleepy, particularly in the cold of winter, but today feels upbeat.
One woman is checking through the clothes rail – what she’s wearing is soaked and grubby. Another is asking to be put on the list to see the doctor today. She goes for a shower before eating. I go and let her caseworker know she’s here – there’s actually some urgent stuff to deal with.
A few of the women join me in the creative corner, there’s laughter but it can be very serious too as women relax and talk about what’s happening in their lives. One is talking about trying to get access to her young daughter who she hasn’t seen for two years. Another told me recently “One25 saved my life” and she meant it.
Later, as a DVD plays, one woman’s fallen asleep on the sofa. She looks exhausted and is woken gently with a cup of tea as we prepare takeaways, clear up and get ready to close.
Drop-in has developed over the years to the benefit of both service users and volunteers. Our painted-tile project is a symbol of us all here at One25: tiles were decorated individually and brought together as a joint piece. We see a fraction of someone’s life and hope it plays a part in making whole.