Originally from Glasgow, Lorraine has a history of drug and alcohol addiction and rough sleeping across London. She also struggles with her mental health triggered by abuse she suffered as a child. Since December, our outreach team has closely supported Lorraine to move away from sleeping rough and address her issues. As lockdown eases, we are now helping her to transition into her new home.
Previously, Lorraine has found it challenging to engage with the relevant support services, “I’ve been let down in the past so it’s made me anxious to get support”. As a first step, we retrieved her birth certificate, without which she could not access benefits. We then supported her to attend health appointments and access drug substitute treatment to manage her dependency. We also arranged for her to attend a drop-in day centre on a weekly basis at The Connection, one of our partners. Around this time though, Lorraine’s physical and mental health quickly began to deteriorate.
As lockdown measures began in March, our health risk assessments outlined serious concerns for Lorraine’s wellbeing. She moved into emergency COVID-19 protect hotel for rough sleepers. She would have been at serious risk of death if she remained on the streets.
Lockdown was a challenging transition for most, and Lorraine found it extremely difficult to adjust to restrictions, so our outreach team provided daily welfare support throughout. We coordinated with services so that Lorraine could access food and essentials. With topped up phone credit, she re-kindled a relationship with her mother, who she had not been in touch with for some time. She also began to reduce her heroin use and arranged to restart treatment for Hepatitis C.
As temporary COVID-19 shelter ended in late June, we advocated for Lorraine to move into private housing. Within a few weeks, she was offered a 1-bedroom flat in Hackney, which she accepted. In late June she moved in, and we continue to provide welfare support referring her for psychoanalytic therapy, and practical help with clothing and home starter grants.
Lorraine now has a real opportunity to break the cycle of her homelessness once and for all. She says, “I’m feeling so much better about the future and I want to keep working with Tricia and Alex [outreach workers]”.