A client came in today sober, he had been drunk for a few days and I told him that my suitcase was packed and waiting in reception and I was ready to go! He looked very blankly at me so I told him that he had been swearing undying love for me in the past week and had promised to take me away from it all!! We both had a good laugh together.
It’s bitterly cold today, everywhere looks very pretty with the frost, but how would we look at it if we had to sleep out in it night after night. It is especially hard for some of our older clients and the women. It is a myth that drink keeps you warm as it actually lowers your body temperature and so causes you to feel colder. A few have sleeping bags which they manage to either haul around with them or store somewhere safe. Often they get stolen and we are always running out of sleeping bags. Any donations of sleeping bags would be greatly appreciated.
It is very wearying having to carry all your possessions around with you all the time. It is a bit of a joke to people “bag lady” but the reality is that it is very sad that often all they own is in those bags. This will include some precious personal things which often is their only link with those they love and have lost contact with. Finding somewhere warm and dry to sleep is hard and when they do they are often moved on by the Police. They find that they are so tired all the time that this adds to their confusion and general feeling of not being well. It is why our comfy leather sofas are so much in demand and are such a success. We try to wake them up as late as possible for lunch as they need the hot meal as much as they need sleep.
The process of getting off the streets isn’t easy. There is what is called “weather watch” beds which is at the discretion the council if the weather drops below freezing. Our clients will be put into bed and breakfast accommodation for as long as the weather stays cold. This may sound an easy arrangement but it often isn’t. When you are entrenched living on the streets your life takes on different patterns and structures. These patterns are often the thing that sustains them. Moving out of these patterns often makes them fearful and vulnerable. It can be frustrating to work with them but many do manage to find their way off the streets, some for a short time but others manage longer and some eventually do manage to make a home. We have clients who are at all these stages. Living chaotic life needs patience both for the clients and our staff team. The reality of this cold weather has been brought home to us afresh today as rumors abound that someone they knew has been found dead in a doorway.