12th July 2017

Case Study - John

Case Study by Tracey, Outreach Worker Based in Bradford.

‘John’ – 42 year old Bradford Rough Sleeper

I have worked with ‘John’ for approx. 10 months. He has been a service user with SotS for 18 months.

John has lived a very troubled life, he became addicted to heroin at the age of 14, was shortly thereafter thrown out of his family home, all contact with his family broke down and has since been homeless, living for most of this time as a rough sleeper with occasional stays in hostels.  As well as being addicted to various drugs, John is an alcoholic.  His life since he was 14 has been totally chaotic and has seen him in and out of various prisons and youth offender institutes. 

When I first met John, he would not engage with me, in fact, he would not engage with any support services in the city.  He was the ‘typical’ SotS service user.  Whenever I saw him, I would always try to engage to break down the barriers he had erected but it proved difficult.  By persevering over a number of months, it gradually became easier engaging with John and I recall one day, about 6 months ago he approached and actually initiated a conversation.  At this time, John was living in a hostel and he advised me he had been served a ‘Section 21’ eviction notice from a hostel due to his non-engagement, not paying his bills and his being room being considered a health and safety hazard.  He asked me for some help and this was the start of us building a relationship.

I helped John move out of his hostel, it was very sad to see how remorseful he was. He told me he was ‘gutted’ to leave and recognised he had made a big mistake. Once at his new hostel we spoke about his attitude and how to work with this hostel – I emphasised to him that his options were running out.  John’s health was deteriorating, he has epilepsy and had not been taking his medication.

At John’s request, I began to visit his mum fortnightly and found they had re-built a good relationship and were close to each other.  She is very ill and realises she cannot cope with having John live with her, he had previously stolen so much from the family. She feels very guilty for this decision but she does feel it is for the best for everyone.  His mum was helping John by receiving his benefit payments and helping him to budget.

Shortly after moving in, John began another bad episode in his life, he refused to pay his service charge, again refused to engage with his key workers and was drinking heavily and taking legal highs. To compound this, he had fallen out of his bedroom window after an episode on ‘Spice’.  Luckily, he was not injured badly but did have to go to hospital.

John was issued a warning about his behaviour and advised he would have to leave the hostel, again for non-payment. I sorted his arrears with the help of another charity which stopped him getting evicted. After this, John began to settle down again and over the next few months he started to work well with the staff, became friendly and even initiated a meeting with staff and myself hoping to be moved on to his own property.  A property was found for John and he was looking forward to moving out and gaining some independence. Unfortunately, just as things were looking up for John, he had another melt down, this time he tried to set fire to the hostel.  He was immediately evicted and returned to sleeping rough.

John’s life then started to spiral downhill again, he was arrested for shoplifting and sent back to prison.  As it happens, John does say that he prefers to be in prison than on the streets.  Once out of prison John was served with an exclusion order, forbidding him to enter Bradford City centre.  This is common for those found to be prolifically begging. 

The problem John then encountered was that all of his support, the food outlets, clothing outlets and of course myself, his support worker are based in the city centre that he is not allowed to enter.   He has no phone so we have an arrangement for him to visit Bevan House Medical Centre so he can contact me and arrange to meet up for support. This is based in the city centre.  I have received numerous telephone calls from the police to verify if ‘John’ had seen me as he had been caught breaking his exclusion order.  In fact, only this week I have had to produce a statement to a solicitor to confirm that at the time of his latest arrest, John was en route to visit me for support. 

‘John’ has a meeting with a private landlord this week to look at some accommodation for him. Hopefully the landlord will allow him to stay but he is understandably very wary of letting a property out to him. Until then he is back to sleeping rough and leading his chaotic lifestyle with a threat of being arrested every time he comes to meet me or access the city centre.

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