Trigger warning: contains some reference to substance misuse

Kyle* has multiple complex needs. He has slept rough for many years, and had historically poor engagement levels with the relevant services that could support him with his mental health and addiction. He also has a long history of being in custody and is sadly stuck in the revolving door between prison and rough sleeping.

In this blog, we wanted to share Kyle’s story. Join us as we explore why the future looks a little brighter for Kyle, although there is still much work to be done.

The tight hold that substances have

Kyle is polysubstance dependent, which means he is heavily addicted to multiple substances. He also experiences severe withdrawals when he stops taking them, making it difficult to manage his needs and risk. This has, of course, presented challenges for our support team when trying to secure emergency accommodation.

Recently released from custody, Kyle came to us with a new outlook. He told us that he couldn’t live this life anymore, and recognised that he really needed to get clean. Our support team has developed a good working relationship with Kyle and was able to really establish some trust, which we think is why he confided in us.

However, as Kyle spent less time in custody and more time on the streets, his addictions took precedence. Not only did this negatively affect his day-to-day life, but it also affected his recovery as he was missing important appointments – one of which was his first meeting with a drug and alcohol service.


Getting the appropriate support in place

Despite his chaotic lifestyle, we have been able to arrange another appointment for Kyle and we hope he will complete this assessment into his drug and alcohol problems. We have also been able to set up Kyle’s Universal Credit and arrange for a full mental health assessment with the aim of accessing suitable medication. Our support workers are additionally in regular contact with his probation worker; by working together, we can help to ensure that Kyle sticks to his license conditions and remains out of prison.

With a little more clarity on his next steps, and reaching a better place mentally, Kyle recently felt safe enough to open up to a member of our support team about his past traumas. These have deeply affected his mental health and influenced his behaviour, resulting in his current situation.

Kyle has also expressed the desire to join groups and activities to give him a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. While this is really positive, it is hard to navigate at the moment because his addiction still has a hold over his life and behaviours. The priority for our support team is helping Kyle recover from his addiction and heal from his past traumas.


The complexity that addiction presents

Addiction grips the lives of many of the long-term rough sleepers that we support. It can not only harm their physical and mental health, but it can also (as in Kyle’s case) slow and complicate their recovery when they do want to move on from the streets and towards new hope.

We’re so thankful that we are here to encourage and support Kyle and others like him, and we know we couldn’t do this without your help. It takes time and trust, but one thing is for sure: if someone wants to change, as difficult as it is for them and us to support them through their complex and chaotic lives, we won’t give up. Together, we really can transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

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