Saving lives across our front-line projects
During our work in HMP Holloway, we supported a lady called Rebecca in custody. This support developed further when she was referred to the Autism Spectrum Disorder project by the prison’s Art Therapist. Upon testing, Rebecca scored very highly on the Autism Quotient and at Rebecca’s request; a referral was made by the Art Therapist for an autism diagnosis in the community. During this time, our caseworker provided weekly support, alongside looking into possible referral routes for support around her mental health and possible Autism – for when Rebecca re-entered the community. During her time in prison, there were a number of incidents of self-harm and a severe anxiety she felt towards release based on fear that her victims will ‘come after her and her family’.
Our caseworker worked to ensure the probation officer was aware of this, as well as the referral for an autism diagnosis. Together we worked to ensure appropriate referral services were available, alongside providing a copy of our resource pack to guide her through the diagnosis process. Upon her release, our caseworker was able to meet Rebecca at the gate. We were also able to meet with her family and talk about the support the team had been offering and provided contact details in case she wanted further support.
Referred to the Outliers Project by our team in the Royal London Trauma unit, Ryan had been discharged from hospital after suffering from multiple knife wounds. He was homeless upon discharge and despite the best efforts of the team Ryan was unable to secure housing. During the initial meetings, Ryan was clearly suffering from anxiety and was starting develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack. He also appeared to be having flash backs from his childhood.
Our project manager pledged that the team would stand by Ryan, with securing housing and benefits a priority. Ryan had been in insecure housing for two years and unable to sustain an income. Working with external agencies the team were successful in petitioning to house Ryan and ensure he had access to benefits. The team have attempted on a number of occasions to get Ryan mental health specialist support, however he is reluctant.
The team didn’t stop their work with Ryan once he was housed and had access to benefits; they started working on employability skills which resulted in Ryan securing a part time job in a high street restaurant chain. This helped to increase his income and in turn reduced his risk of returning to drug dealing which again reduced his risk of being stabbed as he has exited this lifestyle. Although looking in it appears Ryan has resolved a lot of his issues and has secured housing and a secure income, the Outliers team are continuing to support him due mental health issues. The team provides Ryan with a safe space to talk about his past and they are working towards Ryan accepting specialist help.
SOS Royal London Hospital:
21 year old Carlos came into contact with St Giles Trust through a project we run in The Royal London Hospital’s Major Trauma Centre. This supports young people admitted to the Centre who have been victims of serious youth violence. Carlos had suffered multiple stab wounds as a result of a vicious attack on him whilst he was sleeping rough in a stairwell in East London.
In the run up to his discharge, our caseworker assessed his situation and started to support him. He had no paperwork or obvious local connection to any borough but was clearly vulnerable with no money, no friends or family. He was also distressed, confused and recovering from life-threatening and painful stabbings. Carlos’s mental health was poor as a result of the attack and his childhood abuse. There was clear evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and possible personality disorder.
We made a section 184 homelessness application on his behalf to the local council in which he had held a job – the one in which he had the strongest connection and was well away from where his attack had happened. We highlighted that Carlos was vulnerable as a result of fleeing violence and mental and physical health needs. Carlos was eventually granted six months of temporary accommodation whilst we waited for the re-decision on the original application. Alongside the housing intervention, we have provided B&B costs, food vouchers and accompanied Carlos to all his appointments as his behaviour can sometimes be volatile.
This case highlights the situation facing many vulnerable young people in the capital who are homeless, vulnerable and yet still don’t face the high threshold for the definition of ‘vulnerability’ required by local councils. Possible solutions would include more supported housing projects for vulnerable young people, greater awareness and understanding from local authorities and an easier process to help such young people – and their families if necessary – to relocate to other areas.
All names have been changed for anonymity.