Six churches in Swansea are working together to operate a Night Shelter during January and February, providing food and accommodation for rough sleepers. Linden is doing Friday nights and last night I was on duty for cooking. The menu is preplanned - we're to offer cawl (traditional welsh stew with lamb, root vegetables and leeks). I always make dumplings with my cawl at home so I did the same last night and they went down a treat. 'Oh, dumplings! I haven't had dumplings for years!' Or as one man called them, doughboys.
I grew up calling them doughboys but Husband didn't know what I meant so I changed to dumplings. It was great hearing them called by their 'proper' name again! The man, a local, said his nan had been a school dinner-lady and she'd made doughboys so maybe it's a South Walian term.
I followed it with rice pudding and again the cries rang out, 'I haven't had rice pudding for years,' and the talk was all about remembering school dinners with tapioca, sago and rice puddings and the inevitable blob of strawberry jam in the middle.
Nick, who laid the table, suggested candles and wine glasses for the orange squash, which made the table look lovely. One of our guests said it was like a romantic dinner for twenty. (Guests and volunteers sit down to eat together.)
As well as the volunteers from Linden representatives of the housing groups come along too and one, a nurse, who works with the homeless, said what an improvement she could see, particularly in some of the men, even in the two weeks that the shelter has been running. They have some sort of aim in the day - they have to get themselves to the next night shelter/church in time and the churches are all over Swansea - and it gets them motivated and they have to be sober enough to manage it.
They are all so appreciative, it's fab! Last night was my only stint as Daughter's due date is 4th February and I didn't want to commit myself to anything too close to that date as we might be in Devon. But fortunately we had over 40 volunteers from Linden and that's amazing. As a church we're not good at volunteering. We turn up to things and help but don't like to commit in advance!