Neroli, endearingly known at Soul Cafe as Lee
"I’ve been in Newcastle all my life, and have been coming here for a fair few years. I always find em’ here really nice. I’ve met a lot of nice people here.
Coming here, talking to other people, and listening to their problems and that, and trying to help them, is what touches me. Treat people how you want to be treated is what I always say.
At Soul Cafe, the best meal I‘ve ever had is hard to say, because they’re always respectable, good meals here. The ladies in the kitchen always work hard.
I’m more grateful than anyone else in here I think!"
Bob came to Soul Cafe after going through a really difficult time in his life. He was told about Soul Cafe by homeless accommodation...
“The first time that I came here, I could feel that there was something difference in the place, I realised that the people genuinely care. Volunteers would walk past and pat you on the shoulder, and ask how you are today. That genuineness is what change people like me.
When you recognise that you’ve come from a comfortable middle class background your whole life and then all of a sudden you find things very difficult, you find yourself appreciating people differently. I’m not better than anyone, everyone who I talk to here is the same as me. They’ve become my family.
Sometimes having someone to say hello to you is life changing. It was for me. I get more out of being here than what I could ever give.
When I walk out of Soul Cafe I’ve been ‘topped up’, and not just in the belly.”
Meet Bill, one of the familiar faces at Soul Cafe. We caught up with Bill and asked him all about his Soul Cafe journey!
How did you get connected with Soul Cafe?
Bill - I got connected with Soul Cafe by accident. I was walking past, in need of a meal. There was a man downstairs and I had seen the sign down the front about Soul’s food … so I asked him and that’s how it started. That was about 1 year ago.
And how often do you come in?
Bill - I come in often… every day that it’s on.
And why do you keep coming back?
Bill - Because I’m hungry! (chuckles) Well for the food of course, but I’ve got a lot of friends with the staff and guests alike, so that’s part of the day. I’ve met a lot of people through here, good people who you meet out on the street too who you might go and have a coffee with… lots of good friendships.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about coming to Soul Café but –
Bill - Is a little embarrassed?
Bill - Forget about it! Come up here and they’ll treat you like family once they get to know you. You’ve got friends. The staff themselves are beautiful. You won’t get on with every person, but that’s what it’s like in the world anyway. But I can guarantee you a lot of good friends up here, and a jolly good time.
What’s been your most favourite meal ever that you can remember?
Bill – Well there’s been a few of them! Probably the roast dinners when they’ve had them… and whenever there’s ice cream and chocolate! Yum Yum! It’s always a good meal.
What do you like about the volunteers?
Bill – They’re always very courteous, very friendly and cant’ do enough for you.
I also hear that you’ve been looking after Soul’s indoor plants?
Bill – Ah yes all of the pot plants downstairs! Making sure that they don’t turn their toes up and die on us! Just a little bit a water now and then. And we put new soil in them… that was a major job and took a few hours that one, but from now on it’s just a bit of water for them and that should keep them alright for a while.
Do you have any last words that you’d like to share about Soul?
Bill – I couldn’t put them higher on my list really. I think that it’s a terrific organisation. They’re good in a way because they don’t ask questions about your background, and they don’t seek to know any private stuff at all. You can just come for a meal, make plenty of friends with the staff and guests. I’d give them a 10/10!
Why do I come to Soul Café? It’s the good environment!
I found out about Soul Café through this friend, and I thought at first...
"I’m not going there!"
But I came... and I haven’t left ever since. That was five years ago!!
You’ve got good people here – you know what I mean? You come up to Soul, you get a feed and you get to meet wonderful people. It’s been good.
When I had teeth up the top, my most favourite meal was nachos. It was awesome – but now I’ve got no teeth up the top….
Mark (centred) with Matt the Soul Cafe Chaplain ( right) and Sue our Cafe Manager (left).
“I came to Soul 10 years ago when I moved here from Forster, and I had a lot of issues on my plate that I had to sort out from my smoking, drinking and other drugs.
I met some people in the street and they told me that I might be able to get some help from Soul Café… and they really did help me get rid of my bad habits and into a good routine..."