From ‘Nemo’ - one of our close supporters – reposted with permission
Last night I had a walk around town at about midnight and came across a chap who opened our conversation with "Life is sh*t init, mate?" I guess I must have looked a fellow lost soul on my own too!
What an ice breaker. We had a little conversation and I gave a NAC spiel, and discovered he'd lost everything. And I was reminded that all the misery and shame and loss of self esteem with being homeless gets dumped right on top of the pain that causes it in the first place.
This guy mentioned he had to go to Somewhere to Go, the Jobcentre and Addaction today, so at least he knew some things he could do. But there's that risk of lip service. Call me negative, but I know all to well the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.
Which is why I posted this. With all the materialistic support which is hugely appreciated, we must remember the emotional support needed - THAT'S where the turnaround lies. How often I have listened to rants while giving someone a cup of tea! Just through listening, people feel better by someone caring what they are saying. How many times do you complain about an automated phone service? "Thank you for calling - your call IS important to us and you are being held in a queue and will be answered as soon as possible..." - And how nice it is to FINALLY speak to a REAL person about your issue. Imagine if the Samaritans did that?!
I know an official counselling session has boundaries, but every time you speak to someone homeless (or anyone else for that matter) - It can be a listening session. Deep down a lot of people know exactly what they want, they just have no idea how to say it. And after all, how can a doctor do a home visit if that person has no home?
It was quite exciting to see the Night Assessment Centre really starting to come together tonight. This group is called "Supporting Weston super Mare Homeless" and I think we've been doing what it says on the tin. Except in March, when I started to get involved, we didn't actually HAVE a NAC. So how exactly DO you support the homeless?
Well back then, the snow, Channel 4 and the Quakers certainly highlighted the issue in an emergency, but Weston didn't have a solid option for actual overnight accommodation.. Now, I think the Night Assessment Centre will do what it says on the tin, and along with Somewhere to Go and the winter soup kitchens, will be THE solid option. And over the last 7 months, the success will be from all of us learning to work together specifically for Weston. I have seen how the project has listened to people and not assumed that because - I don't know - a night shelter in Norwich works well the way it is run there, that the same approach will therefore work here. No –
This NAC will be unique for its purpose.
The NAC has never been to me so much as an assessment from us to them, but instead an assessment of themselves. That's what I see - a SAFE place to recognise options and goals, and begin self empowerment to achieve them. This may simply be making it to an appointment with the council. Only the other day, someone was explaining the reason they miss appointments is because they simply lose track of days - let alone time.
So now the support for the homeless has a base along with Somewhere to Go, and we can know where to help.
And this certainly doesn't mean the homeless will disappear from the streets at night now - Some will. Some will start to change there lives. Some will want to stay where they are and you have to respect that. But now you will be able to tell them there is an option. And their choice to try it will come from the same courage that's needed to break the whole cycle. There is no sense of achievement without a sense of effort. I am reminded of the Three Little Pigs. The smart pig builds his house of bricks. The house of straw is a lot like the slashed tent mentioned earlier today. And the house of bricks isn't the NAC - it's the solid decision to choose something deep inside to build on - to risk trying something new to change - because that little decision will give a little strength and it will gain momentum.
So thank you for all your support and best wishes to Hilary and Liona and crew, and if you have any questions please get in touch via the CTWD contact page.