Liverpool's street drinkers get help
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Health
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A project is helping many of Liverpool's street drinkers to turn their lives around.
Outreach workers have contacted more than 180 people in the city centre and the Kensington area to offer advice and support about reducing drinking levels and, where appropriate, helped them with accommodation and medical needs.
Unlike existing outreach work, which takes place during weekdays, the initiative took place in the evenings and at weekends, which are peak time for street drinkers.
The project aimed to:
• Identify street drinkers and their needs while building working relationships and trust.
• Encourage them to think about changing their lives and make them aware of the solutions and options available.
• Provide advice on safer drinking and, where needed, help in accessing medical treatment through walk-in centres and or a GP.
• Support people to change by providing practical and emotional support. This involved, among other issues, resolving crises, medical interventions, accessing accommodation or supporting people to remain in accommodation. It also encouraged people to think about longer term change.
• Encourage community awareness by, for example, clearing up litter created by street drinkers.
Advice about reducing harmful drinking levels and behaviour was given to 172 people and 29 were supported into accommodation by the team. Five street drinkers who had tenancies but were struggling to cope took up offers of support.
Two of the most prolific street drinkers were helped to break down the barriers which were preventing them from changing their lives. Both are now indoors and alcohol-free.
One of the people helped by the project was David, a 46-year-old man with a long history of rough sleeping and street drinking. He had slept rough sporadically between 2008 and 2011 before moving into accommodation which he abandoned in 2012.
During the course of the project David was seen by the ‘Out of Hours’ street drinker team on 67 occasions in addition to contacts with the existing Rough Sleeper and Street Drinker Outreach teams.
He was reluctant to engage with the Street Drinker Outreach Workers. At that point he was rough sleeping behind Central Station, drinking two litres of sherry a day and using heroin.
He had a cast on his leg which needed attention and was not in receipt of benefits. Initially he refused all offers of help but gradually David began to build up a relationship with the workers as they were seeing him on a daily basis. Eventually he agreed to think about coming indoors and was accommodated in a hostel but continued his street drinking lifestyle.
Workers continued to engage and support him and it was agreed to fast track him into detox and he went to Hafen Wen in Wales for drug detox. David was then supported into Transforming Choice (Solna) rehabilitation centre for alcohol detox residential rehabilitation where he has remained alcohol-free since 16 December. Transforming Choice said “David is a joy to work with and will join our peer mentor programme to help others in a similar situation”.
Councillor Peter Brennan said: “The value of this project can be seen in the effect it has had on the lives of people like David. Many other people have been supported in reducing the levels of their drinking.
“This project was very successful in both identifying the scale of the problem and the needs of the individuals involved. It has helped very many people to start to change their lives and making them aware of the support which is available.”