| by Sara Emerson, Sarah's Support Worker |
From the beginning of the journey, Sara helped me while I was living in emergency accommodation, visiting me once a week. She gave me a beacon of hope because she’s a normal person and we spoke about normal stuff. She helped me get a birth certificate, benefits, and bring me food. We used to have general chit chat, and it felt like I was talking to a friend not a worker. She was an integral part of my detox because of dropping off methadone, and bringing me craft supplies which stopped me going crazy when I couldn’t sleep while detoxing. She gave me a tablet which enabled me to go to my meetings, and as a result I’m 4 months abstinent. She was an integral part of my recovery.
Sarah and I first met when she was having to move from her family home into emergency accommodation. There had been lots of risks in the property, and Sarah needed moving for her own safety and because of an eviction order. Sarah was quite stuck and felt unable to leave a home she had been in and out of for a long time. At this time, Sarah was using crack and heroin regularly, on top of her Methadone prescription, and was in very poor health.
Sarah was referred to Justlife by her drug worker, Maddie, as it was clear she was going to struggle in emergency accommodation. Sarah and I met in a coffee shop, and realised that as two Brightonians called Sarah, we had a lot in common and got on well! Between Justlife, Equinox and Sarah herself, we were able to move her to emergency accommodation.
Sarah and I started meeting in her emergency accommodation regularly to sit, drink coffee and have a chat. We worked on things such as benefits, a housing plan and managing her drug use. Sarah has had a very difficult and chaotic life with long-term drug use, but felt for the first time in a long time that she was willing, and able to fully accept the help available.
After showing that she could maintain her emergency accommodation room to a high standard, Sarah was moved into temporary accommodation. Temporary accommodation is much more independent, and people need to manage their own money and pay their bills themselves. It also meant that Sarah was able to move away from such a chaotic environment. Sarah was doing well, but still using drugs and struggling with her finances. She was also struggling to adjust to having so much of her own space. Then lockdown hit.
Lockdown was extremely difficult for many of Justlife's clients, but Sarah thrived. She made the decision to stop seeing dealers, and avoid putting herself at risk of Covid-19. She had her prescription of methadone changed to weekly, and I, alongside her other support worker, Mike, would it pick it up for her, and deliver food and medication to her accommodation, so she was able to isolate.
Sarah took isolation very seriously and prioritised her own health. She started to reduce her methadone herself, and started engaging with online support groups. She would regularly check in with Mike, Maddie and myself in order to seek support.
Justlife gave Sarah a tablet to make online support groups more accessible for her, which she said was huge help in her recovery. Mike and I also regularly gave Sarah craft supplies and writing material in order to give herself an outlet for how she was feeling. Sarah took around 100 days to fully detox herself from her methadone, she is now clean from crack, heroin, methadone and alcohol, and working on the 12 steps as part of an CA community.
Sarah is now able to support others by sharing her journey and although still early in her recovery, she is a real advocate for how people can make positive choices in the face of adverse situations.
Sarah no longer receives support from Justlife as she is very independent, healthy and in stable recovery. We had our final coffee together recently and reflected on our time together, and how Sarah had really worked hard to make huge changes in her life. She is still bidding for a council property to move on from the TA but is making sure she only bids on places she is sure about, as this will be a long-term move. She has a very talkative pet parrot called Max, and currently spends her spare time writing poetry, and enjoying anything related to arts and crafts.
Sarah wrote this beautiful poem while in recovery.