Paul* worked with Barnabus quite a few years ago and we helped him into accommodation where he was in recovery for his alcohol addiction. He was then moved into his own property and attended rehab for a few months. We hadn’t seen Paul for a couple of years but he reached out to us after he had returned home after his time in rehab. He had his case closed with his social worker because they believed he was able to sustain himself, live independently and manage his addiction, however he was incredibly lonely and struggling to manage his life as a result.

An old friend in need of help

Paul began meeting with our support team in the Barnabus office, about once a fortnight as he had a few issues with his housing benefits and with bills that had mounted up whilst he was in rehab. At this time, he wanted to keep going with his recovery so started attending alcoholics anonymous meetings again but we began to notice that he was struggling and was becoming overwhelmed with so many things to sort out. He was also physically struggling to get to Barnabus for his meetings due to issues with his feet as a result of trenchfoot from when he was rough sleeping so one of our support workers changed the arrangement and went to visit him instead. We decided that he would be a good candidate for our resettlement team so a support worker initially visited him to get immediate issues taken care of and then a referral was made to our resettlement team. We were very excited to see Paul doing well and out of rehab on the road to recovery. However, we knew that while the financial issues could be relatively simple to solve; the mounting pressure, loneliness and addiction would be a battle that he would have to face.

Combating his poor mental health

When we first went to visit his flat it was obvious it hadn't been cleaned for sometime it was in total disarray and uncared for. This was mostly due to the fact that Paul had started to drink again and was so lonely that he didn’t have any motivation to look after himself or the flat and he had let it degrade quite significantly in a short amount of time. We began by addressing his outstanding arrears these had accumulated because his housing benefits had unknowingly stopped. We then realised that there were quite a few things that needed sorting like this and it was obvious this was causing Paul a lot of stress but most of all we could also see how lonely he was. Each day we came back we noticed the flat was cleaner and had been tidied and Paul was more cheerful, he even said that a little bit of stress was removed each day as he saw things being done. He said that it was really hard to motivate himself when he was lonely and didn’t have anyone or anything to look forward to but he really looked forward to our visits and liked chatting as well as getting things sorted; this all helped to take the stress away bit by bit and improve his mental and physical health.

A bright future

Now that Paul is going to be under the care of the resettlement team he will have people to see each week and we will help him manage and maintain his recovery as well as create opportunities and encouragement for him to engage in his community. Paul was incredibly grateful for the support but didn’t know how to reach out for it, when he did we realised that it wasn’t just housing benefit, and universal credit, that needed sorting out but he also needed help with his loneliness and mental health.

This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and it is a cause close to our hearts we work with people who have complex needs and addictions and almost every person we help struggles with their mental health. If you’d like to find out more about the work we do from our Beacon Support Centre, check out our website. And if you’d like to help us play a role in more stories of transformation like this, please consider supporting our charity.

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