Thursday, April 23, 2009

Out with the Soup Van in Glasgow...

The Soup Van in situ with the team

Last night I joined John, Carolyn, Marrion & Tom out in Glasgow for a couple of hours to serve the homeless and needy... and what a rewarding experience it was.

The van has the facilities to serve soup, tea, coffee and water to those in need... with rolls (plain & filled), crisps & chocolate thrown in for good measure. We also had a selection of male and female clothes, and sleeping bags available for folks to take away.

Its an awesome van... an old Defender thats been modified to include a kitchen... that is so slow and cumbersome when on the move and yet so sturdy when in situ.

The Soup Van in situ (112/365)

Our pitch was outside Borders on Buchanan Street. It was really meaningful for me because this is my space through the day... Borders being where I browse the magazines and consume way too much coffee. It felt special to be on the outside... giving back to Glasgow and to the people of Glasgow.

The folk... and indeed they were folk like you and me... ordinary folk with their problems, issues and addictions like you and me... not a broad categorisation as "the homeless" and a subsequent write off. These folk are real people... Theresa... Duncan... Paul... real people with needs and preferences and dreams.

Thats what struck me about being out. I cant take pics of the folks... its not fair on them... I wish I could convey the happiness on their faces as they had something to eat. It meant the world to be able to give some soup out... give some bread... and help someone out.

Someone like Duncan, who John & I met on our rounds on Queen St. Duncan loved Isabel's soup... he spoke of it "sticking to his ribs" which is a true compliment. The chap must of had five cups of soup in the time we were there. Thing is... he was so grateful... and acknowledged the work done in God's name.

The folks knew who we were and trusted us accordingly... which was truly humbling.

The experience has changed my views of homeless folk... for one thing I no longer see them as a collective entity but as a group of individual human beings who were made in the likeness of their creator. Not bums... but people of worth. It has also made me realise that I can do something to help the situation... that the darkness isn't that dark... that we can shine light and show an alternative to, not only the folks we serve, but those passersby who have seen what we have done.

This is the Salvation Army I am proud to be part of and I thank God for the opportunity to serve the people of Glasgow and, ultimately, Him in this way. This is what its all about, in my humble opinion.

More pics are available here on Flickr.


Unknown said...

Gosh, I want to do that! Can I help too, or would I need to be a Salvationist?

Johnny said...

Awesome stuff, Thomas.

caldjr said...

thanks for sharing T, and thanks for doing this. Used to be part of a soup kitchen thing back home down south and, even as the younger more naive person I was then, still found it challenging and rewarding. Now, working with such homeless guys, I'm grateful for the opportunity to know them as the people they are. The 4 formerly homeless guys who are now my staff team, are also (I'm very Biblically proud to say) very much my friends. To some people they are a statistic. To some they are a 4 page disclosure document. To me, they are guys who want to rebuild their lives.
Thanks for your honesty in this post Thomas. Like you, I've been on this journey of realisation about these people. They are indeed just like us. And yes, we can do something to help them - and acknowledging their existence as fellow humans is the biggest step any of us can take.
bless ya pal

wcs53 said...

Yeah, I second Dan, and say thanks for sharing. I took a social issues course about a year ago on homelessness and it really changed my whole outlook. I will never be able to think of homelessness in the same light again.


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