Got to say it’s been an eventful week, so if you are sitting comfortably I shall begin. I’ve done a few volunteer shifts with the night shelter and will save that for another blog. Work offers are coming in and I’m pretty sure that I will accept one of them but have to sort my sleep and mind wobble out before I go full time, but this blog isn’t solely about me, my ego will have to take a back seat.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had regular conversations with a guy that is on the streets. Although he is 33 he actually looks like he is in his early 20’s, lucky sod. Sadly that’s where the luck finishes for him. He sleeps rough, has a heroin addiction and as a result has to “sit down” it’s not seen as begging as such because you don’t ask for money. Anyone walking by that drops cash does so completely at their own will. A simple thing like saying “do you have any change please?” is actually classed as aggressive begging no matter how politely you do it.
He’s been unable to receive his universal credit because he doesn’t have a bank account, so me, being me I say let’s get you sorted with one. I hit the internet in search of an account for people with no fixed address, didn’t get to far so I contact Lloyds bank through twitter and explain the situation. They reply very positively saying all is possible with limited I.D. and a care of address, so off we go together to the branch only to be told that the I.D. he has isn’t enough. He needs letters, photo I.D. and they must have his care of address on, none of which he has. Now remember this is a heroin addict that is now getting agitated, not violent just jittery and stressed. I contact through twitter again to be told that this is not the case, back and forth the conversations go with no success. We try a different bank and long story short again no joy.
It turns out that this guy has been bullied on the streets and people that claimed to be his friends have either orchestrated or robbed him themselves a few time. So taking a risk I say to him, rather than use one of these guys he can put his benefits into my account and we’ll get a witness to see me handing it over to him. We deal with that at the benefit office and the money is due into my account the same day that the Salvation Army have arranged a residential rehab place for him.
The night before this is due to happen guys from the street realise he isn’t going to use their account and things get slightly intimidating for him. So in my infinite wisdom I allow him to sleep on my floor rather than take the risk of him doing a runner and the hard work of finding him a suitable rehab going to waste. Part way through the day he starts getting nervous about his money actually going into my account on the Friday , the same day he is off to rehab. I realise this isn’t the case he’s more worried about getting his morning fix the next day as he hasn’t “Sat down” so doesn’t have the money to buy any.
He wasn’t due at rehab till 3 in the afternoon and I knew he wouldn’t, well more couldn’t face the full day without. I give him £20, the last money I have and simply say “That will sort you in the morning”. Immediately he settled and we had a good talk, something to eat and quite a decent afternoon/evening.
I wouldn’t recommend that you pop into town today and get yourself a rough sleeper/heroin addict to bring home but I know this guy, and fortunately I have no family silver to be nicked.
Next morning I check my account and fortunately his money is there, he returns my £20 and we wander into town for the deed to be done. He buys, wanders off, does what needs to be done then returns. We get out of town and back to my place as quick as possible to wait for my mate to pick us up later in the day to take him to rehab.
Halfway through the day he is getting a bit edgy again and he asks if he can do his last hit in my bathroom. No point refusing so I say yes providing once done all his drug gear get’s put in a bag for me to get rid of, he agreed and after said job was completed we chilled until our mate turned up and off we went to the rehab.
Yesterday at 3.30 he was checked in, we can’t have any contact with him for 3 weeks and no visiting for 3 months. The programme is designed for him to be resident for up to 18 months with vocational training as well as the rehabilitation.
I certainly hope that he sees it through, I know he has a long way to go and I can’t imagine how hard it will be. I hope he comes out the other side clean and remains so for the rest of his days. No one deserves life as a addict where you have to sit in busy streets in all weathers being verbally and at times physically abused, all self respect thrown in the gutter just to survive.
I have to say as we left him and returned home that I felt good about it, as a team effort we did something that could change the rest of his life.
Thanks for reading