Trigger warning: contains some reference to substance misuse and suicide

At Barnabus, we work hard to make our centre a welcoming place – one where the people who visit can trust us to always look out for their best interests. We build the Beacon in a way that best supports our friends on their journey away from the streets and into a home of their own. But sometimes, it can be lifesaving too. Here’s how…

A place to confide in

A few weeks ago, Clive* came to our drop-in sessions at the Beacon. He hadn’t been homeless for long and had only been to Barnabus a few times before. He came in and quietly asked for a cup of tea before sitting in a corner on his own. Looking to lift his spirits and find out how we could help him find housing, a member of our engagement team began chatting with him. It was then that he disclosed that he’d taken an intentional overdose of his antipsychotic medication.

This is a serious incident, especially when we didn’t know what the effects of an overdose of this particular medication would do. An ambulance was called immediately. Fortunately, it was a day when we had an NHS nurses in our medical suite. So, while we waited for the ambulance, one of the nurses from the Urban Village Medical Practice was able to monitor Clive’s vitals and keep him calm. Paramedics then took over his care, and he was taken to hospital.

While this is clearly a very dangerous and self-destructive thing for Clive to have done, we don’t believe that it was a suicide attempt but rather a cry for help. Not only did he come to us for support, but he also took an overdose of a drug that is unlikely to be fatal.

A place that takes action

Once Clive was in the ambulance and on his way to hospital, we made a safeguarding referral. We completed an online referral and a social worker from adult safeguarding rang back the next day. Shockingly, this turned out to be Clive’s fourth referral – he had already been flagged by others as an individual who was at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.

Safeguarding referrals go to the council’s safeguarding team, who work to produce a multi-agency response that’s tailored to the needs of the individual at risk. As this was not the first referral made, the safeguarding team was already working with organisations from across the city to support Clive.

We’ve stayed in touch with the council safeguarding worker and are pleased to report that they’re liaising with Clive’s GP and   as well as the Homeless Mental Health and Manchester City Council Housing Solutions teams. Together, they’re building a plan of support to help him get off the streets as soon as possible and overcome his problems in a safer environment.

A place that’s always open

We wish Clive all the best in his recovery, and he knows that he’ll always be welcome to come to us for further support as and when he needs it.

Clive is just one example of how important it is that our centre is a welcoming, trustful and judgement-free place. It then becomes somewhere to turn to for constructive support and during moments of life-threatening crisis.

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