We returned from our break last week to be met by many clients eager for our return. They had all struggled with the heat of the weather and many had sun tans from too many hours sat in the sun. Everyone comes out in the sun and suddenly the demand for space in the city centre of Sheffield is at a premium. Office workers who catch a well deserved lunch hour start to complain about sharing open space with the more intoxicated of our clients. The police have to respond to the complaints of antisocial behaviour by street drinkers and so a number of clients have received warning letters and A.B.Cs – Antisocial Behaviour Contracts. It’s strange to think that at the beginning of the year it was the extreme cold weather causing our guys real problems, and now the summer heat produces further challenges. We meet with the police and other agencies once a month to see how we can best manage some of the problems caused by street drinkers, but most options would cost lots of funding which in today’s economic climate just isn’t possible. The policed stated that there had been a noticeable impact on street drinking resulting from Ben’s being closed for two weeks. The police are forced to act when the public make complaints, and in order to prevent this we really need to press home to clients that they need to manage their behaviour and find places out of the way.
It’s a really difficult situation. Many clients are currently sleeping rough. Just where do we signpost them to go when they have nowhere to live? Equally, their own behaviour and actions and their alcoholism often are the cause of them losing that accommodation. But if it was so easy for them to control their addiction to alcohol, would they be in this position in the first place? It’s a vicious circle and no one has any big answers at the moment. We just need to keep tapping away, bit by bit and step by step.