Important Health Care Provision

We’re pleased to be able to report that as of the beginning of August, we are hosting a walk in clinic staffed by Swansea’s ‘homeless and vulnerable adults’ nurse, Jan Keauffling.
 
 This facility will be available to many of our friends in the city on Mon, Tue and Weds mornings from 8am, when we are open for breakfast for rough sleepers, (staffed by The Wallich), through until 11am each week.
 
 Jan had a wonderful facility and treatment room at the Cyrenians centre at St Matthews in High Street, which tragically had to close earlier this year. We can’t offer the same space, but it does mean Jan and her colleagues, can continue to function effectively among vulnerable patients and deliver excellent health care that is accessible, in a familiar venue. This is very much a short term solution, but it will partially fill an important gap.
 
 Thank you for your support in helping us to do this.
 


Over the years we have previously hosted numerous health days organised by Jan and her team of health professionals and in partnership with the Swansea School of Medicine and The Big Issue.
 
 See this link to see what other things we are doing at Zac’s Place to look out for those in crisis.

Is Anyone Listening?

A couple of winters ago I got a call from someone saying Pete was desperately down and needed some additional warm things. It was well below zero and the snow was falling onto packed ice.

I put the snow chains on the van and headed into the city as quick as I could and true to form I found Pete, huddled up peering out of his coat declaring that he was perfectly ok and had what he needed wondering what all the fuss was about.


(Photo courtesy of Lee Aspland)

Pete was as complex as he was introverted, as intelligent as he was sober and as stubborn as he was opinionated.

His stubborn refusal to engage with ‘the system’ infuriated me, and many others, only taking help if he believed it was truly benevolent, which to our community’s credit was often in abundance. If however, he thought anyone was receiving a salary for ‘helping the homeless’, they didn’t meet the criteria to be in his circle of support, despite their efforts and care.

To get close to Pete was almost impossible. You had to earn that right and it wasn’t anything to do with what you might offer of material gain or daily bread. There were no brief meaningful chats with Pete. You needed an hour at least before you even started.

A lyrical journey of sorting his predicament out, the struggles of a changing city around him, the ecstasy of watching Mo Farah win gold on ‘his’ wide screen tv in the square, reeling off Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas songs, the memories of being fit enough to play table tennis, the hypocrisy of government, society and the church and all the books he wants to store, were all fair game, for any that were invited into the intimacy of a private audience with Pete.

What Pete wrestled with was the same as most of us, the reality that life is often about loss. The loss of innocence, of opportunity come and gone, of loved ones unexpectedly departing and the loss of love thought won.

People respond and react in many different ways, for Pete, he chose to try and lose Brian Burford in search of only he knew what and why. But for all the muddle and the riddles, he carried something in his soul, a crusade and mission to make a point maybe. He was not a statistic, or even a legend, he hated that thought, but he wanted to say ‘something’ on his terms and he wanted ‘someone’ to listen.

On occasion Pete would say, “if I ever give this up, it won’t be in the winter, it will be on a warm summers day”, as if there could have been some far off possibility that it could happen and he was in control of it.

We ‘could’ build a monument of bronze 100 feet high, or we could pause, we could watch, we could learn to listen. If we want to build a monument in memory of Pete, may it be one that taps into the core of our soul that compels us to love without measure or want of any reward, to leave our prejudice behind, to live simply and gather only what we need. May it be a monument of substance in the life of our community that levels the ground and doesn’t place a persons worth on what we see with our eyes, but in the knowledge that we are all wonderfully made and indeed all very fragile.

Enjoy the dance dear friend, the embrace, the banquet and the mansion. See you later, I’ll be the one stood outside in the rain hoping you’ll let me in.

Here’s some Bob Dylan to close with, the lyric somehow seems appropriate.

Sean

‘Pete’s’ funeral took place on 25 February 2015. His ashes were placed on the grave of his mother, his step father and his younger brother. Robin Turner wrote a thoughtful piece in the Western Mail which you can find here.

Chimes Of Freedom – Bob Dylan

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music

The Pro’s and Con’s of volunteering at Christmas

Christmas is a popular time for us to receive offers of help among the homeless and street community – maybe with helping at meals over this time. Quite often we have to turn away help and I hope in these few paragraphs it will explain why.

Please do not be offended if you have offered your help and services with us at Zac’s Place, or indeed to any other agency working with homeless and vulnerable people, over the Christmas period and not been given the opportunity to volunteer.

We appreciate people’s enthusiastic support and interest at Christmas time, but the reality is, helping out at a soup kitchen or drop-in centre can actually be very specialised work. It is not something that complete strangers can just drop in, in numbers and help out easily. Much of the work is with very fragile and sometimes unpredictable, volatile and chaotic people who respond to the support given to them best, when it’s built on long-term relationships.

At Zac’s place we have a very dedicated team of year round volunteers. One team of volunteers alongside support staff from the Wallich, open up at breakfast time 250 days a year. Another team of approximately a dozen volunteers staff our coffee bar and soup kitchen on a Thursday night which opens for 46 weeks every year.

In these, we work carefully in partnership with the City & County of Swansea rough sleeper’s task group, other organisations like the Wallich, Caer Las, Missionaries of Charity, Salvation Army, the Night Shelter, the Big Issue, prison chaplaincy and local drugs projects to ensure that the people we aim to help and support are looked after as best we can within safe boundaries of integrity and confidentiality.

Because of this, it is not easy for us to just open our doors to accept voluntary help for a single occasion to people who we simply do not know. Some of the people we support are very vulnerable and we would not want to expose them to any more potential risk than they already experience in daily life.

We and many of the other organisations in the city welcome volunteer support throughout the year. If you would like to support those who are homeless and vulnerable for other reasons, over the Christmas period, our advice would be to get involved with a project during the rest of the year in preparation, building up relationships and where there are specific ongoing needs for volunteers, financial support and other practical items also.

If the only time that you have available is over the Christmas period we understand this and would welcome other ways of contributing – drop in with some non perishable food tins with ring pulls , some toiletries or simply a gift of some jars of coffee and bags of sugar to keep the everyday wheels turning are really helpful things. New socks and underwear are always welcome – small pots of Vaseline to help keep trench foot at bay make a difference. Often when places of refuge are volunteer led, they are also donation funded – practical items are really helpful and will make a difference.

Thank you for your interest, support and understanding – with warmest Christmas greetings from us all at Zac’s Place

 

Cookie

You saw life
 Through an alcoholic haze
 Staggering silhouette
 Bag in hand
 Talked in riddles
 Slept by the bins
 Ten year asbo man
 Keep movin’ on
 Through our doors
 You found a home
 A light in your eyes
 Of hope within
 Farewell Cookie
 Enjoy those hymns
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summer at Zac’s Place

A few snaps from recent times with Zac’s folk this summer…
 
 Time sharing with Korean mission students at Nations in Llanelli


Nicky’s Baptism at Aberavon


Sian and Tony’s baptism in Swansea bay


Gritty Productions pilot theatre project featuring pro actors alongside those with experience of homelessness – Barry plays his part

Street Theatre Project

Gritty Productions in association with Wales National Theatre are running a pilot street theatre project a Zac’s Place this week.
 Stories from the street community, working with actors devising material for a presentation this Friday – small ideas that we hope will develop into a bigger platform. Wonderful to see the creativity out of chaos.
 

BBC Return To The Streets

This Monday 10 Feb see the first of three more remarkable documentary programmes featuring the stories from some of those on the streets of Swansea.

It’s gritty and deeply moving, depicting some beautiful moments of hope amid a dark back drop of deeply traumatic lives struggling to get through each day.

In the back ground, Zac’s Place features along with the work of other organisations: The Wallich, Caer Las, Cyrenians, The Big Issue and medical professionals demonstrating where we fit and how we function together.

Tune in 10.35 BBC 1 Wales, Mon 10 Feb and BBC iPlayer and get a window on some of what makes us who we are and do what do.


Also on Satellite:
Freesat Channel 971 (Rest of UK)
Sky Channel 952 (Rest of UK)
Cable: Virgin Media Channel 862 (Rest of UK)

BBC Web link
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03v2xk9

Health Day Success

Thanks to all who took part in the Health Day at Zac’s Place on Nov 1st.

Many of our friends have complex problems and they are served best by a good team effort of dedicated volunteers and skilled professionals from across several agencies – which included the Big Issue, The Wallich, SANDS, nursing and mental health team staff from Cyrenians St Matthews, dental and podiatry experts and student nurses. Here’s some of the wonderful crew …


Karl from The Wallich who coordinates weekday breakfast provision at Zac’s

Pics by Liz from our Facebook page.

Annual Health Day Nov 1st

Health Day at Zac’s Place is on Friday 1st Nov running from 9am to noon. See the following poster for info…. A full range of check ups, advice and flu jabs in partnership with our friends at the Big Issue Cymru and The Wallich.