Let’s BeFriends was set up by people with lived experience of homelessness, who were involved with the Lancaster City Council-run homeless advisory group.As a result of the Everybody In campaign at the beginning of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) first lockdown, we noticed there was a big gap in the current services for homeless or people under the threat of homelessness. Below is a service user case study:
I began to befriend JH approximately in April 2021, I was introduced to him by our then volunteer coordinator, when I met JH he was in good health apart from a mobility problem caused by a badly healed broken foot, we asked him if anything could be done about, it from a medical point of view and he said he'd been told it could be broken and then reset but there was a chance the operation would go wrong and he could end up in a wheelchair, he didn't want to chance this so wasn't going to do anything about it. I went for a walk with him on one visit and he had to stop every 200 yards to rest for a few minutes.
I was visiting JH every Wednesday afternoon for an hour or so, on one of the early visits Julie and I took JH to Morecambe Football ground to have his first coronavirus inoculation in her car. We provided JH with a tablet so he could use it at home with him being in most of the time, he liked to play chess on it, and we provided him with a dongle so he could get the internet but he didn't seem to take to it, we also provided JH with a mobile phone.
JH's health began to slowly deteriorate and he blamed it on the covid vaccination, he went with our then volunteer coordinator for his second one in July and he was still blaming his ill health on this. As time went on his surroundings began to deteriorate, he wasn’t looking after himself, he was neglecting to clean, cook and get his own shopping, only going out to the local shop once a day for takeaway and cider.
We became increasingly concerned about JH and shared our concerns with his Calico worker and discussed interventions such as getting him to see his GP, and hiring a cleaner, this he was reluctant to do, so we began to do his cleaning, shopping and some cooking. JH has a visit from his GP, he took some blood samples and recommended JH go for x-rays as he was also becoming short of breath, he also had a fall at home and badly bruised his ribs.
In recent weeks JH's health has deteriorated rapidly, his body began to swell around his middle and his feet, we got his GP to visit again and he recommended J H should go to hospital for tests but he wouldn’t agree to do this. My visits to JH now consisted of me going to the shops for him, cleaning away his rubbish and cooking him some lunch, the other workers from Calico were doing the same even though we kept saying he should have a cleaner.
It was decided that there should be an emergency meeting of all the people concerned with his welfare with his GP to plan the way forward. The top priority was to get him to engage with a cleaner, to encourage him to take the medication his GP had prescribed for him and to generally keep an eye on him, JH became more poorly and attempt to go to the shops he collapsed on Queen Street and a woman called him an ambulance, he was admitted to hospital and had some of the fluid drained that had been accumulating around him.
I was convinced that all his troubles were being made worse by his daily intake of frosty jack cider and on a more recent visit tried to talk to him about it but he became very upset and said he was sick of people going on at him about his drinking so I didn't pursue the matter further. Now JH has me going in once a week, Calico and also Katheryne but so far no cleaner, we are working on this and I am also trying to encourage him to drink less as I suspect he is suffering from liver failure. JH is always grateful for all I do for him and often say's so.