Trigger warning: contains some reference to alcohol misuse and suicide

We met Robin* while carrying out our street outreach work during the lockdown of winter 2020. He had been receiving basic care from other services in the city and had multiple complex needs.

When our stories converged, Robin had been in and out of different accommodation, mainly due to his behaviour when under the influence of alcohol. He was between places at this point, sleeping on the streets as everyone was told to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In this blog, we trace Robin’s story from his Beacon visits to his admission to a mental health and substance misuse facility.

Off to a good start

Robin started to come to the Beacon for food, clothing and showers. There, he built a good relationship with the team and continued to regularly visit the centre. We helped him with a variety of things, such as medical care from the NHS nurses in our medical suite, accessing mental health support from the Greater Manchester Mental Health and Homeless Team, and assessing support for his alcohol dependency with Change Grow Live, among other services.

Although Robin has tried abstinence-based projects in the past, he had recently relapsed. It was clear he needed a harm reduction approach. This would allow him to control his addiction and lower his level of drinking at a steady rate, reducing the chances of him returning to his heavy drinking habits.

An unfortunate turn of events

Then Robin’s mental health took a dive. He became very suicidal, and came to the Beacon Support Centre with a plan to harm himself. Two members of our support team; Amy and Jenna and a couple of people from the Mental Health and Homeless Team stayed with him, offering support and reassurance until 8pm when emergency services arrived.

Robin has since been in a specialised mental health and substance misuse facility where he’s getting the care he needs. He has been in touch to say he’s doing a lot better and to thank everyone for their support.

Robin’s next steps

But our support didn’t end there. Our team got in touch with a Manchester-based harm reduction supported accommodation project that focuses specifically on alcohol addiction. They work with individuals who are actively drinking to reduce harm to themselves through personalised support plans. We believe that they would be ideal for Robin.

Robin has an assessment booked in with the project soon, where they’ll make a decision as to whether he should be offered accommodation. Staff at the mental health and substance misuse facility said they will not discharge him until he has an appropriate place to stay in Manchester. This means that he’ll continue to receive care from them up until the moment he can move to supported accommodation and continue his journey of recovery.

We wait in hope

It would be amazing to secure Robin a place on this project as they are very limited in the number of beds they have and often have long waiting lists. In situations like these, though, sadly all we can do is hope.

We will of course carry on searching for similar projects that would also be able to provide Robin with the level of care he needs. Until then, we’ll continue our street outreach work as well as our Beacon services to help ensure any other individuals get the support they need too. You can help in that mission by donating items, fundraising, giving a gift , volunteering, or spreading the word.

*Name has been changed to protect our friend’s identity