Progress - 26/06/2020

Progress looks different for all of us. And for people who are homeless and sleeping rough, who may also be struggling with their mental health or an addiction, progress can often be painfully slow. Three steps forwards followed by two steps back. Missed appointments, broken promises, hours spent talking and waiting for people to engage with services. Waiting for that window of opportunity to arise, for somebody to ask for help.

Sheffield services and charities are full of staff and volunteers, dedicated to supporting their clients, however long it takes and however slow their progress looks to those on the outside. Help us Help spoke to one such person, Victoria Court Project Worker, Mo, about one of his clients who’s journey has been hard, and is far from over yet.

“It’s a great news story. A hard news story though. And it isn’t over yet. Far from it...” explained Mo, when discussing his client X with us. X had spoken to Help us Help on several occasions and was happy for Mo to share his story with us.

Mo discussed how X had arrived at Victoria Court in November from another temporary accommodation provider in the city. Initially he was volatile, not interested in engaging with Mo and the team and appeared un-focussed and disinterested in making any changes to his lifestyle and behaviours. After being shown to his flat, he stayed for 5 minutes then left to go back to his old accommodation, even though that was no longer an option.

Eventually X returned and stayed, but he was still hostile to the team, physically unkempt, struggling with an addiction to Spice, and leading a chaotic lifestyle with regular visitors to his flat. This all came to a head when armed gang members took control of his flat, resulting in the Police being called, and services feeling unsafe supporting X whilst he was at Victoria Court.

Sheffield’s well established multi-agency working method meant that all services were up to date on how things were progressing for X. This is a real strength about the city’s approach to supporting homeless and vulnerable people, as services are able to act cohesively to ensure support is consistent, and clients are always being given the same messages, with support not overlapping, but being provided holistically.

Things deteriorated further for X as he failed to engage with support, and his mental health hit a crisis point, before a support service working with homeless ex-soldiers such as X got back in touch and offered their support. Things began to slowly turn around for X, thanks to Mo’s commitment to helping him engage with the support being offered.

Help us Help and other charities were able to arrange for donations to make X’s flat more homely, and support him with keeping it clean, and getting his washing done. X loves building Lego and it is a great stress release for him, and allows him to focus his attention on something creative. Help us Help asked the public for donations of Lego, and X is really grateful to everyone who donated. He’s recently been donated a laptop to help him stay in touch during the pandemic and access support remotely.

The Council gave his flat a deep clean, and X has started to take better care of himself and his surroundings. X started a detox, with the support of Fitzwilliam Centre, and is 3 weeks in and doing well. Now X is able to see how unwell he was before, and how irrational and unpredictable his behaviour had been, and is making amends with the team at Victoria Court who bore the brunt of his outbursts, especially Mo!

X is now working with a psychologist on developing his coping mechanisms, and avoiding flare ups when things go wrong for him. The team at Victoria Court continue to support and encourage him in developing his independence and life skills. He is engaging well with services and keeping appointments, all of which is making his life more stable. 

Progress, slow and steady, but progress all the same. We’ll update you on how things are progressing for X later this summer.