Registered Charity Number 1179298

Chairman's Comment

HAVEN is a group of people coming together to achieve a common purpose that is bigger and bolder than any individual’s ambition. This can only be achieved with the co-operation, support and dedication of existing groups who operate and provide services in this area. We believe that by working together, we can make a real and sustainable difference to West Berkshire and the communities we live in.

The Challenge

The challenge facing Newbury and West Berkshire in terms of homelessness and supporting vulnerable people is immense and should not be under-estimated. A tremendous amount of work has been undertaken by a wide number of organisations statutory and voluntary, over a number of decades. However, the need is increasing; groups and services need to be organised in a manner that fosters greater understanding from their potential users, and easier access for people who often have an immediate and urgent need.

There is an range of organisations already meeting these vital needs within our communities, but far too often these are not understood by the very people needing them. We believe that HAVEN can provide a hub from which services can be accessed and better communicated, so that potential users are aware of what is available to support them.

We are committed to working collaboratively with existing services providers. Our role will be to provide clarity about what is available and how to access it. Establishing a comprehensive and integrated service for all in West Berkshire.

We have established a formidable group of people who, in addition to their specific skills and experience, are keen and motivated to deliver the HAVEN vision, and make a real difference to our service users and the communities we live and work in.  

The History of Haven

In 2014 Meryl Praill started volunteering for Newbury Foodbank at the Salvation Army Hall in Newbury. While volunteering at the Foodbank it became apparent to Meryl that so much more could be done for the homeless and vulnerable in West Berkshire. Meryl wanted to do more and approached the Salvation Army and asked them if they would allow her to run a Soup Kitchen from their premises.

The first Newbury Soup Kitchen session was held in Jan 2017 and was an immediate success. Each week the number of service users and their needs grew as did the number of volunteers.

Before long and with the help of some key volunteers, Meryl was working 7 days a week organising the Soup Kitchen, sourcing suppliers, and recruiting the volunteers which was growing weekly. The Soup Kitchen is privileged to accept the Charity and Non Profit award at The Best in Business Award 2018. In February 2017 it became apparent that the need for something other than a Soup Kitchen was needed locally. Meryl realised with her growing team that they could work together to better serve the homeless and vulnerable of West Berkshire by setting up a Community Support Centre, and the idea of HAVEN was born.

Meryl and the team have been working to realise this vision since then and have put together a team of trustees and lead volunteers. This team are currently developing the HAVEN vision and how to harness the strengths of local service providers.

We are pleased to announce that we have been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1179298.

Gift Aid Status has been applied through HMRC and granted.


HAVEN will be a Community Support Centre for the homeless and vulnerable in West Berkshire, and a hub for support services in a safe environment.

HAVEN aims to partner with local charities and service providers including: Eight Bells, Loose Ends, SEAP,  Newbury Soup Kitchen, West Berkshire Homeless, Swanswell, etc.

HAVEN will provide a location; from which local service providers can deliver services and support to service users in a co-ordinated manner.

HAVEN will be managed by a core team of full-time/part-time employed staff, and a wider team of multi-skilled volunteers.

HAVEN will not duplicate existing service provision from partnered service providers unless necessary services are missing.

Targeted initial services to be provided by HAVEN and other service providers:

Health Well-being

Health Outreach Liaison Team Nurses and Community Dental Teams are already in place at the Newbury Soup Kitchen

  • Healthy nutritious hot and cold food and drinks
  • Showers
  • Doctor / Dentist / Foot care specialist (already in place)
  • Hairdresser
  • Sexual health and Needle Exchange
  • Community fridge
  • Launderette (via token scheme)
  • Vet
  • Provision of key equipment (tents, sleeping bags, torches, etc.)
  • Clothes store and fitting room

Counselling & Supporting

  • Counselling and mental health support
  • Internet access
  • Benefit advice / Financial advice / Legal advice / Housing Advice
  • ID applications
  • Employability advice

Classes & Education

  • Numeracy / Literacy
  • Money and budgeting
  • Social skills
  • Basic cookery skills

Signposting – Advisory service, where to go for appropriate help

  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • West Berks Council
  • Housing
  • MEAM (Making Every Adult Matter)
  • Blue Light (Non Engaging resistant drinkers who use the Blue Light Services)
  • Swanswell:  Drug and Alcohol Support and Advice Service
  • Foodbank, Eight Bells, Loose Ends, SEAP, West Berkshire Homeless etc. Rough Sleepers Task and Targetting Group

Safeguarding & Guiding Principles

All HAVEN staff and volunteers, and those of partnered service providers, will be required to adhere to a rigorous set of safeguarding policies and guiding principles. Members of the board of trustees of HAVEN with the relevant professional skills will provide safeguarding policies and guiding principles. ALL volunteers are DBS Enhanced for Vulnerable Adults.

Timeline & Business Plan

The delivery date for the HAVEN business plan is dependent on the availability of a suitable building. This section will be developed more formally as we gain clarity around our funding and access to a suitable building.

Building Requirements

Locations: Close proximity to central Newbury

  • Central Space (feeding, functions, activities, lounge etc.) – 150m2 / 1600ft2
  • Kitchen – 30m2 / 320ft2
  • Showers – 2 (1 male, 1 female)
  • Outreach/therapy – 3 @ 10m2 / 100ft2 (2 with water)
  • Storage (donations, food, clothing, equipment, etc.) – 3 @ 20m2 / 200ft2
  • Offices – 3

Based upon these requirements HAVEN has identified the United Reformed Church Hall and United Reformed Church, Cromwell Place, Newbury as a possible suitable venue.

However, we are currently searching for other suitable venues.


Mark started his career in the pharmaceutical industry with Crookes healthcare and Boots Pharmaceuticals. Specialising in Human Resources and Customer Operations, Mark left the Centrica Group and joined the Board of the Simplyhealth Group where he spent 13 years focussing on a broad range of health products and services.

In addition to his commercial experience Mark was a Trustee with the Society of St James charity where he also held the position of Vice Chairman. Mark has recently stood down from his role as Vice President with the Institute of Customer Service which he represented since 2010.

He is currently a Non-Executive Director with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which provides both community and mental health services. In his spare time Mark acts as a member of the Professional Council of the Global Executive Network.

A volunteer at Newbury Soup Kitchen from it’s earliest days, Lee has held a range of Senior Management roles in the private sector, Lee is currently heads a department of 100 staff at Vodafone UK. A director of a Community Interest Company (Newbury Community Football Group) who’s objective is to ensure local sporting facilities are protected and developed. Lee is also the Chairman and Club Welfare Officer of AFC Newbury Boys and Girls, a volunteer run organisation that provide football for over 350 local children each week.

Helen runs her own company of 15yrs offering a range of bespoke professional support services for businesses, invaluable to clients across West Berkshire. All delivered in a friendly and approachable manner by an experienced, flexible team.

Helen’s experience has come initially from working for local accountancy firms in Newbury. Qualified by experience initially then from the Institute of certified bookkeepers  in Sept 2010. Helen provides monthly expenditure reports for HAVEN (West Berkshire) and liaises with all the Trustees with Financial matters with regard to the charity.

A key member of the Newbury Soup Kitchen team, Mai-Britt graduated with a Bachelor Degree from University College Lillebaelt, Denmark in Social Education in 2014 and worked as a Support Worker for the social psychiatric housing Teglgaardshuset from 2014 to 2017. Working with dual diagnostic, mental health and substance abuse. Mai-Britt moved to the UK in 2017 where she soon discovered the Newbury Soup Kitchen and quickly became a key member of the leadership team and now works as a Health Care Assistant at Thornford Park.

John is a key member of the Newbury Soup Kitchen team and volunteers most weeks. Through his experience as a Director of a care support company for the elderly he is very experienced with working with vulnerable adults and working with a team of people and the general day to day running of a successful business. . Previous experience with charities at Trustee level has given him the experience that is needed to work through and grow a successful charity with a vision and long term goal. John also has experience working with addictions

Charity work has always been an integral part of Lorna’s life with her previous charity commitments focussing on animal welfare and conservation, in both behind the scenes and public facing roles overseas and the UK. This has resulted in a solid understanding of the day to day requirements of a charity coupled with the importance of educating & raising public awareness and she has demonstrated a flexibility and willingness to do both. After moving back to the UK the desire to ‘make a difference’ didn’t ebb and after dropping off some camping equipment at one of the Thursday night Soup Kitchen sessions in 2017 Lorna volunteered on the spot and now attends almost every week. HAVEN (West Berkshire) gave the opportunity to support a local charity at the heart of the community which she grew up in and due to her role of a carer since a young age, Lorna has a very personal experience of Adult Mental Health issues, the challenges they present and the importance of accessible support that has a flexible approach.

After passing her CIPD HR qualification in 2018, becoming a trustee seemed like a natural next step and whilst she will still continue in her public facing role within the Soup Kitchen she is also committed to supporting HAVEN (West Berkshire) as it grows as a charity. Her 4 years’ HR experience in the public sector and commitment to the Safeguarding of both clients and volunteers will support the charity when it moves into a building to provide a Community Support Centre which requires strict guidelines and robust working practices to ensure the safety of all and a professional working environment.

Main Contact & Key Volunteers

Meryl started her career at Norland Nursery training College obtaining the NNEB, NAMCW and Norland Diploma. Meryl worked as a residential nanny in London before setting up an introductory employment agency in Fulham, London in 1990. The agency specialised in the introduction of nannies, maternity nurses and mothers helps to the Royal family, celebrities and professionals all over London.

After moving back to Newbury to bring up her three children, she volunteered for their primary school PTA throughout their education getting involved in fundraising and organising school events. Meryl organised a big event involving the London Welsh Male Voice Choir to Newbury to raise money for the school. For three years Meryl also volunteered for a charity sending aid to Ukrainian orphanages, organising legal paperwork, stock and border import issues.

Meryl has volunteered for the Foodbank locally for the last 4.5 Years. It was during this time Meryl became aware of the plight of rough sleepers, homeless and vulnerable people in the town and surrounding areas. Meryl approached the Salvation Army to see if she could set up a Soup Kitchen in their premises. The Soup Kitchen has since gone from strength to strength now feeding up to 70 people a week and provide support in the town on a Saturday from our donated van from Swift Couriers. There are over 55 volunteers on the books and a growing number of support services working with the Soup Kitchen. Through this Meryl has gained the following training:

Mental Health Awareness level 2   (2017)

Mental Health First Aid October 2017

Drug awareness and Substance Misuse (2018)

Suicide Prevention Training: Suicide Intervention Skills Training   (July 2018)

Blue light Impact Problem Drinkers / Alcohol Identifying and Brief Advice for Problem Drinkers

Safeguarding Level 1 (2018)

Safeguarding Level 2  (February 2019)

Mental Capacity Act Training: Level 1   (April 2019)

British Red Cross First Aid at Work:  3 day certified course  (March 2019)

Heart start First aid: (2017 & 2019)

Naloxone Training through Swanswell (blocks affects of opioids, especially overdose) 2017 & 2018

Anger management training 2017

Enhanced DBS for vulnerable adults Anger management training through WBH 2017

Food Hygiene Level 2

Enhanced DBS for vulnerable adults

Exploitation, Vulnerability and Safeguarding (Need to Know) June 2019.


  • R.G.N (Registered General Nurse) VOLUNTEERING AS FIRST AIDER
  • Dementia Trained
  • First Aid
  • Training in Managing Challenging Behaviours
  • Mental Capacity Act Training
  • Adult and Children Safeguarding


  • GP (General Practitioner) RETIRED
  • 32 Years in General Practice
  • School Medical officer in local school
  • Particular interest in women’s health and family planning
  • Trained and up to date in CPR and all necessary training for role as GP


  • Qualified Ambulance Technician (Paramedic) 32yrs service
  • Enhanced DBS
  • First Aid through Ambulance technician


A qualified clinical psychologist currently working with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Stephanie has specialised in older adults since qualifying in 2005 at University College London. Stephanie has experience of working in a community setting providing talking therapy to people experiencing depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, etc., as well as relationship difficulties, long-term health conditions and those at risk of self-harm. Main therapeutic models include CBT, short term psychodynamic therapy and systemic therapy. As part of her training Stephanie also worked with working age adults in a range community settings and a psychiatric inpatient wards as well as with children with learning difficulties in the community. Stephanie also supports clients with a dementia and their families. As such her work includes conducting neuropsychological assessments to help with the diagnostic process and providing carer and family support. CPR Trained with Enhanced DBS.


Police Community Officer for Thames Valley Police
17 years experience working with the homeless and vulnerable locally
Alcohol and drug awareness, First Aid
Training to diffuse difficult situations
Well established relationships with street homeless and vulnerable due to day-to-day work walking the beat around Newbury and surrounding areas
DBS Enhanced

Lorna (HR & Compliance Management)

HR for West Berkshire Council
20yrs Supporting Mental Health Experience
Lorna is taking on the role as Haven HR Lead Volunteer
DBS Enhanced


Vet  BVSc Bsc CertAVP (ESO) MRCVs qualifications
Registered vet surgeon
Drug awareness and Anger management training
NPL Pool life guard / First Aid
Drug training through training with certain drugs for his profession


R.G.N (Registered General Nurse) RETIRED
Health Visitor RETIRED
Mental Health Experience
Support Worker Experience
First aid experience (re-suss training)
Child protection safeguarding


Director of Care support company for the elderly
Working with vulnerable adults
Experience with problem drinkers


Working for Home start: Family Support Worker for young families
Studying to be a life coach Level 5


Civil Servant (Job Centre) now retired
Foodbank Volunteer
Experience working with vulnerable adults


Governor of a special needs school
Events co ordinator (job)


Self employed family business
Book keeping
Kitchen volunteer Soup Kitchen


Hairdresser 16yrs experienced
Qualified Ambulance Technician (Paramedic) 32yrs service
Enhanced DBS
First Aid through Ambulance technician


Samaritans trained, 4 years experience.
Interview training works for MOD

Phil (Graphics Support)

Ex rough sleeping experience
Graphic Designer by trade previously, now offering all design work for Haven and Newbury Soup Kitchen.
All Logos, advertising and marketing graphics designed by Phil


Director of Security Company
Security experience
Finance and HR
Scott has been instrumental in the building and management of the website and social media, raising awareness of the Kitchen in the local area.
He believes that there are many good causes within Newbury and West Berkshire, but conscious that there is no cohesive approach to homelessness. Scott sees that HAVEN will bridge this splintered gap to provide a consolidated hub of supportive services, either direct to the homeless and vulnerable or via third party outreach services.


Degree in Computer Science
One of initial founders and chief technology officer at webinfinity (next generation saas platform for partner relationships management)
20 years building technology for the biggest tech companies in the world

This is a few of the wonderful team of voluteers who give up their time to support Newbury Soup Kitchen and the move into HAVEN (West Berkshire) a Community Support Centre.

Close Menu