By Ella, Dean's Specialist Support Worker
He now works with a volunteer in our befriending scheme and is working towards attending a peer support group. Dean is also part of the Common Ambition project and will work with us to improve health services for people experiencing homelessness in Brighton
Dean moved to Brighton from Leeds to flee violence and the cuckooing of his council flat that he’d lived in for 8 years. Cuckooing is when someone’s home is taken over by others and used to facilitate exploitation. He had formed a relationship with his partner and now wanted to remain in Brighton, but his homeless application was refused and he was advised to return to Leeds, despite him feeling at risk there. I supported Dean to appeal this decision and we approached a solicitor for legal help. Through their support, the decision was overturned and Brighton & Hove council accepted a duty to house him.
When I first started working with Dean, his diagnoses were rapid cycling schizoid bipolar affective disorder, frequent suicidal ideation, hepatitis C, frequently dislocating shoulders that required operating on, and a knee replacement. He was always in pain and had underlying undiagnosed health issues, on top of other needs that had been unmet. I worked closely with his GP to refer him to have various health investigations.
I supported him during numerous scans, appointments, consultations and so on. I also linked him up with the drug and alcohol service and got him on Hep C treatment, which he successfully completed. We supported him to reduce his alcohol intake as drinking daily was causing him liver issues. I also provided emotional and mental health support when needed or suicidal due to severe childhood trauma.
Eventually, Dean was offered temporary accommodation - a ground floor studio flat with an accessible bathroom. I supported him with grant applications to help furnish the property, and referred him to the homeless nursing team who provided a raised toilet seat, four wheel walker, a step into the garden, and a stool. He also began physiotherapy and working with their occupation therapist, and I supported him in bidding for a permanent home.
Sadly, the flat suffered two huge floods from an upstairs leak, damaging and destroying most of his belongings and rendering the flat uninhabitable. Dean was placed back in emergency accommodation where he experienced assault, unprovoked, by a staff member at the hotel. I raised a safeguarding alert and supported Dean to report this to the police. The staff member was fired and Dean was eventually able to move back into temporary accommodation.
I continued to support Dean during health appointments, with court appearances, emotionally and practically by supporting his bids on Homemove, benefits applications, and with shielding during the pandemic.
In January 2021, Dean was offered a ground floor accessible council flat. Now that he was securely housed, and feeling confident to attend some of his health appointments independently, we began moving towards closing his health engagement support. I referred him to the Recovery Park Centre and Justlife’s Social Connection project, and he also works with Probation and Rethink Mental Illness.
He now works with a volunteer in our befriending scheme and is working towards attending a peer support group. Dean is also part of the Common Ambition project and will work with us to improve health services for people experiencing homelessness in Brighton. We shared fish and chips to celebrate and reflect on the work we had done together for the last 976 days.
*The person in this image is not Dean. Image sourced from the Centre for Homelessness Impact's image library.