Case Study – Vincent
The London Network of Nurses and Midwives in Homelessness is organising a conference supported by the LHF in May 2016. The theme is ‘How Safe is the Safety Net?’. We will be looking at how the current system works with vulnerable women; migrants and those with complex needs.
In the run up to the conference, we will be publishing a series of case studies of people we have worked with; people who can often get lost in the net.
For more information about the conference click here
Vincent is 46, and has had problems with alcohol for as long as anyone can remember. He also suffers with mental health problems, hears voices and has tried to commit suicide 7 times.
Vincent has never been taken on by a Community Mental Health Team as his problems are seen to related to his substance misuse.
Vincent also has a history of short prison sentences for petty crime and anti-social behaviour. His last short sentence followed 8 months of relative stability living independently in private rented accommodation. Vincent was then placed on remand for an alleged harassment charge. Whilst on remand for 3 weeks he missed a rental payment, and was evicted. Vincent was discharged from prison homeless. He tried to access more accommodation in the private rented sector, but failed as he had no deposit and no references. He spent the next few months alternating first sofa surfing and then rough sleeping.
Vincent also has a chronic distressing skin condition. Unluckily (or luckily) this period of stress and homelessness exacerbated the condition, and he had to be admitted to hospital for a period of systematic treatment. Once in hospital Vincent stressed that he would rather go back into prison that face another night on the streets, and was willing to re-offend to achieve this.
Vincent was supported by a hospital discharge team to present at a Local Authority with a prepared priority need case, and was granted temporary accommodation immediately.
Sadly, we all know people like Vincent. Not easily categorised; not easily housed or helped. But in great need. Many people experiencing short sentences are discharged homelessness, and many of these have multiple vulnerabilities. How can this revolving door be stopped? Is it time to have homeless teams within prisons?
At the conference, we will be discussing how best we can help Vincent. Should the Justice system ensure that people like him are never discharged homeless? What is the role of health care professionals? Where is the safety net?