It is very difficult when a Beneficiary dies. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the project it is also a very real possibility. Since the project commenced in July 2014, 17 of our Beneficiaries have sadly passed away.
One of our Personal Development Coordinator's, Scotty Clark, recently wrote a blog about Jimmy Healy, a Beneficiary of the project who passed away in November 2016. Scotty also composed the following eulogy for Jimmy's funeral:
Very much the public face of homeless men with multiple and complex needs in Nottingham over many decades, it is clear that Jimmy Healy made a lasting imprint on many people, as evidenced by the people here today.
In the absence of Jimmy's family who are unable to be here, it is clear that Jimmy's extended family was made up of others with complex lives and those who worked in services providing support, care and sometimes just a warm drink on a cold day. Ask anyone who worked with Jimmy at any time in their careers and they will tell you, that when he dropped his guard, he could be a gentle, caring man, with warmth and a gratefulness that made it worthwhile.
2016 is a year in which many rock and roll legends were taken from us, and somehow it makes it fitting that Jimmy Healy is added to that list of those who died in 2016. Even with Jimmy's chaotic life, he is testament to the care of the NHS and the Prison Service that he reached the age of 67.
If Jimmy's funeral is a celebration of his life, then it must also be a celebration of the many services, groups and individuals in the city of Nottingham who provided him with care, support and offered him the hand of friendship.
The Paramedics and the Ambulance Staff who Jimmy was on first name terms with, the Nurses and Doctors of the QMC who gave him their best care, and the Homeless Health Team and the Street Outreach Team who cared for Jimmy when he was street homeless.
The Framework hostels that housed Jimmy, such as 40 Forest Road, and the London Road Hostel; it was in the London Road Hostel that Jimmy died, warm and dry, where staff fought to resuscitate him, after a heart attack.
Jimmy experienced the joy of sobriety and the fellowship of likeminded souls, whilst in recovery for a significant period through Alcoholics Anonymous.
Jimmy had his own informal networks, places that reached out to him, places that gave him a hand of friendship, ranging from the Methodist Church on the Corner on Upper Parliament Street, Emmanuel House at the bottom of Hockley, The Friary in West Bridgford, and this very cathedral itself.
One of the core aims of our project is system change. We want to ensure that people like Jimmy can access appropriate support when they need it most. Early intervention is essential, and perhaps if Jimmy had been able to access support at a much younger age, his journey would have been very different.