By Ella, Dean's Support Worker
In October 2018, I was sitting in the Arch Health waiting room with one of my clients when she started chatting to a friend who was there to pick up letters for her partner. Tearfully, she told us that her partner, who was dependent on crutches, had been placed in a third floor emergency accommodation room, with a bathroom on a separate floor that was inaccessible due to his physical disabilities. I intervened, gave her Justlife’s contact information, and Dean became my client.
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. Throughout 2019, I worked closely with his GP at Arch 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. He now only drinks alcohol occasionally.
I also provided emotional and mental health support when needed or suicidal due to severe childhood trauma.
In September 2019, 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, in 2020 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.
Throughout 2020, 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 the SCP and is working towards attending a peer support group. Dean has also referred himself into the Common Ambition project and will work with us to improve health services for homeless people in Brighton.
On the 18th June 2021, we shared fish and chips to celebrate and reflect on the work we had done together for the last 976 days.