Archive for March, 2010

More From Tom

Tom recently received the news that his ex girlfriend had fallen pregnant again. This news was a huge shock to Tom and ultimately he started to use a lot more class A drugs and buried his head in the sand. Again he started to disengage from services and had the ‘I don’t care about life’ attitude, so again I tried my best to keep Tom engaged and I came up with some active coping strategies for him to try, but again despite my best efforts Tom started using heavily and drinking most days.

I arranged to meet up with Tom one day to just have a chat and he asked me about reimbursing him for some travel expenses.  I had to decline as the ticket was a weekly rider and therefore he had no travel needs. Tom didn’t take this very well and told me that I was shit and that myself and Simon On The Streets could “go f**k yourselves” then he stormed off.

I wasn’t offended by this as I knew that it wasn’t about me, Simon or the bus fare, but rather about Tom’s situation and him not coping well.

I didn’t push engagement as similar things had happened in the past and Tom had always got back in touch with us also I was still in touch with his DRR worker and Probation so I was still updated on Tom’s progress every couple of days.

I got a text from Tom around 2 weeks after the outburst with an apology and asking if I could give him a call. I phoned Tom and he told me that he was sick of the life he was leading and that he was ready to make a change so naturally I went to meet up with him and he had made a plan.

Tom had been engaging with his DRR key worker and they had formulated a plan around Tom going to residential Rehab. Tom was excited about the prospect of not only being drug free, but if he did managed abstinence then his ex girlfriend would have no ammo against Tom’s right to see his son. 


Jamie, Support Worker


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Creaming and Parking

I heard the term ‘Creaming and Parking’ recently in relation to private companies working to support long term unemployed individuals back into work.  The criticism is that these companies are creaming off those individuals who are the most employable and simply pushing them towards the first opportunity that comes their way and parking the most vulnerable individuals because the level of support that they would need to achieve a positive outcome is too high.  The obvious consequence being that some are getting no service at all and others are getting the service that suits the service provider and not the service user.

Creaming and Parking is not unique to unemployment services.  Simon On The Streets is (and has been for years) fighting against this kind of approach that leaves the most vulnerable with no support.  The worrying thing is that now the full implications of the economic downturn are starting to hit commissioned services in all areas of social support there’s a real chance this approach will intensify as commissioners start to see ‘Creaming’ as a demonstration value for money.  And when the most vulnerable tend to exhibit problematic or anti-social behaviour the most cost effective thing to do is point them out as bad people who don’t deserve support. 

In our drive to get the most efficient services we can’t allow the most vulnerable to be left unsupported.

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More about Karen

Potentially, Karen might have to serve the rest of her sentence which she is dreading. She is in a cell on her own as she is classed as “high risk” and said that she just spends all day laying on her bed thinking about what an awful person she is. She is on medication for her mental health problems including anti psychotics and benzodiazepines but she doesn’t have the option of having someone to talk to. When I visit Karen it takes 10-15 minutes for her to come out of her shell but when she does it is very apparent that she has got a lot on her mind which she needs to talk through with someone. I’m very glad she feels able to talk to me but it’s so frustrating that she has to wait for my visits to have an outlet for all the problems she is facing and attempting to deal with. At the moment, Karen’s immediate future depends on the outcome of the hearing, she may have to serve the rest of her sentence or she may be released on licence again.

If she is released then she needs to be released into residential rehab outside of Leeds as she clearly cannot manage to abstain from alcohol on her own, she has tried so many times but she can’t do it. Unfortunately due to timing and funding issues this looks very unlikely and she may be released, as she has previously, into whatever accommodation we can find for her and asked to attend an alcohol service until rehab is an option. My worry is that we have tried that before and it doesn’t work for Karen, she will be in the same situation as before and that will just compound her frustration and stress about her situation, which is not going to help her motivation and ability to face her relationship with alcohol.

Fiona, Support Worker

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