A Beneficiary Journey
Prior to experiencing multiple needs, Ben* had a full-time job and supported his family. A very traumatic event in his past has been identified as one of the key triggers for his journey towards multiple needs.
Ben was referred to the Opportunity Nottingham Project in late summer 2016. The referral was made by Framework Housing Association's Street Outreach Team in Nottingham City. Ben had been rough sleeping for over two years, with the exception of short periods of time in the winter months where B&B accommodation was accessed.
At the point of referral, Ben was rough sleeping and experiencing all four of the Opportunity Nottingham project needs. His substance misuse involved predominantly Mamba and occasional Heroin, offending behaviour included theft, and Ben was also experiencing significant mental health issues.
During his time rough sleeping, Ben accessed services and sporadically engaged with support workers. However, this support did not cover all of his needs and relapse became inevitable as significant issues in his life were not being addressed. A large DWP back payment resulted in an extensive episode of substance misuse and a lack of engagement with drug support workers.
The Opportunity Nottingham approach meant that for the first time, Ben was able to access support for all of his multiple needs, and make steps towards recovery. The first action Ben's Personal Development Coordinator (PDC) took was to arrange accommodation. Shortly after he joined the project, a room became available at a hostel in Nottingham City, and Ben was allocated it. However, after just one week, he was displaying increased drug use including extensive Mamba use and an increase in Heroin injecting. At this stage, his PDC took action to remove Ben from the hostel environment as it was clear it was having a very negative effect. Private accommodation was secured to offer Ben a safe space, and with it came the condition that he would focus on decreasing his drug usage. This type of approach had not been offered to Ben before, and it meant that he was able to 'stop' and address his needs. His previous experiences had involved being passed from one service to another, having to 'tell his story' every time, and receiving ad-hoc support that was not joined-up across services.
Ben's benefits did not meet his rent, so his PDC helped to arrange financial support for three months in order to maintain his accommodation. He was also signposted to other services to receive help and advice on managing his budget, ensuring bills were paid and he had enough money to live on.
During this time, Ben self-detoxed. He stopped using Mamba and Heroin. He successfully maintained his accommodation. Move forward ten months from his initial referral, and Ben has achieved a significant amount;
He is not experiencing substance misuse, homelessness or offending
He is seeking help for his mental ill health, attending counselling and a course to help reduce anxiety
He continues to attend support groups
He is now in contact with his family
Ben continues to be a Beneficiary of the Opportunity Nottingham and receives on-going support from his PDC.
This blog was written with the support of Ben and his PDC.
*Name change for confidentiality.