Stephen writes that when he was 14 years old he became depressed because he had severe acne and other children picked on him at school.
“I took an overdose of sleeping tablets and was admitted to hospital, this was the first time I had contact with a psychiatrist. Throughout my teenage years I had a number of bouts of depression and left school and drifted from one part time job to another.”
“When I was 24 I was about to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act when I ran away from home and lived in a corridor of a block of flats. I had a spell in a mental health unit but was discharged from hospital when I took alcohol on to the ward and I became homeless from that point onwards.”
“At this time I was drinking 9 cans of ‘Special Brew’ a day, and begging too. I was eating cold chips from dustbins and the voices in my head were constant. Whilst on the street I was frequently abused by others and bullied by teenagers. I caught pneumonia and ended in hospital for 6 months. When discharged I was housed in a flat in Bethnal Green, however I didn’t like it there and got rid of the keys down a drain.”
“I was then moved to a homeless hostel with over 200 other men, but I was thrown out of there when someone set fire to my bedroom. I got the blame but it wasn’t me. I moved back to the streets. I was living from one day to the next. I continued to drink. I had no life. Then in December 2003 I moved to the Haven. It was difficult to adapt at first, I was so used to doing my own thing but I’m now at a better place.”
“My physical health has improved and my mental health is much better. I haven’t broken the law in years and I no longer beg for money to buy alcohol. I now have a better outlook and more of a future.”
The Haven is a Registered Care Home which is a sanctuary for 25 men with long-term alcohol dependency like Stephen. It provides a stable environment and sympathetic support. It uses qualified staff to help residents to reconnect with their family and make positive links within the community and encourage them to take steps to improve their diet, personal care and medical health.
This facility is run by the West London Mission. The Mission’s vision is the transformation of those affected by destitution, personal difficulties and destructive cycles of behaviour. We seek to carry into the field of social work the challenge of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, to “go always, not only to those who need you, but to those who need you most”.