Angus* is a 57 year-old male with a long history of homelessness, drug use, anti-social behaviour and deteriorating physical health. His story highlights the often complex support needs of our clients, and the long-term support provided by our Scottish Outreach Workers required encouraging individuals in need to meaningfully engage in support. The current Covid-19 situation has meant we have urgently had to co-ordinate and liaise with homelessness services to ensure that Angus, along with all our clients, have all the necessary support that they need.
Over the years, Angus has been accommodated in hostels, but was evicted from his most recent housing in September 2017 after five years due to his problematic behaviour. He has attracted the attention of the police, local anti-social behaviour wardens, and Westminster City Council. This has meant he constantly moved on from where he was bedded down, and this has made it challenging for us to maintain frequent
contact with him.
Since he has been evicted, he has again been rough sleeping on the streets of Westminster with his dog Daisy, a Staffordshire bull terrier, who he says has been his lifeline. The longer that Angus remained on the streets, the more his health was rapidly deteriorating. In this time, he was suspected of having lung cancer, whilst also suffering issues with swallowing and eating.
Patricia, our newest Scottish Outreach Worker, had worked with Angus both at Borderline and in her previous role as an outreach worker in Westminster for the past decade. With this work over a sustained period of time, she had managed to gradually build a positive relationship with him over time and cement a level of mutual trust.
This trust meant that Angus would openly discuss his health issues with Patricia. So with his approval, we liaised with Homeless Health Team1 nurses and were able to arrange specialist health appointments to meaningfully address his health issues once and for all. We supported him to attend his first appointment; however Angus failed to attend any follow up appointments.
Angus’s challenging behaviour meant that we spent a lot of time trying to locate him across Westminster. Whenever we did manage to find him, we would encourage him to attend his health appointments and to access medical care at his local GP. However, despite repeatedly agreeing for our Scottish Outreach Workers to accompany him to his health appointments, he would not turn up.
The decision was made to give Angus a little time to initiate re-establishing contact with us himself. After no contact for over a month, we received a call from Angus asking to meet up for a chat. He informed us that he was really concerned about his deteriorating health and his continued drug use. As such, Borderline again referred him to specialist health and drug treatment services. This time, there seemed to be a massive shift in his motivation to engage with support and to achieve a positive outcome.
With the current Covid-19 outbreak, Angus is now at extremely high risk as a result of his deteriorating physical health and lack of accommodation. We urgently co-ordinated with services to ensure Angus was placed on a high priority list and that he had somewhere to stay.
Angus was triaged and tested negative for Covid-19 and is now being housed at a hotel to self-isolate. We are covering expenses, such as emergency food vouchers, to ensure Angus has access to food and we are ensuring he has continued access to be prescribed methadone, a substitute drug, to overcome his drug dependency.
As the uncertain current situation develops, we will continue to closely monitor, track and provide ongoing support for Angus to monitor his health and wellbeing.
At Borderline, we continue to closely monitor, track and support all of our clients, like Angus, and we are urgently co-ordinating with our partner agencies in the field. Regular phone support to monitor wellbeing and support accordingly, as well as sourcing appropriate accommodation is now our priority at Borderline. If you are able to support fellow Scots like Angus at this time, please visit our donations page.
*Names are confidential to respect anonymity of our clients
– Written by Patricia, Scottish Outreach Worker
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