July/August 2020 - Page 17

Jankovoy/iStock local council, our staff used the service’s minibuses to transport local homeless residents to temporary accommodation. PANDEMIC COMPLICATIONS Our housing support service has been extremely busy supporting service users that are being negatively impacted further by the pandemic. One was referred into the service following the death of his brother whose funeral he was unable to finance. Our worker liaised with the relevant housing association and welfare rights advisor to enable the tenancy to be transferred, and an intensive package of support was made available. Had this work not been undertaken, our service user would have remained isolated and alone during a heartbreaking situation that was made all the more difficult by social movement restrictions. The implications for his ongoing recovery are obvious, but we are happy to report that he is continuing to do well with his reduction in substitute prescribing and abstinence from illicit drug use. One of our young service users has particularly struggled during lockdown and found it hard to get into the new routine of not seeing ‘One of our young service users has particularly struggled during lockdown and found it hard to get into the new routine of not seeing friends... and being at home constantly. He is classified as high risk as he selfharms regularly and feels he can’t disclose his selfharm experiences to other professionals. ‘ friends at school and being at home constantly. He is classified as high risk as he self-harms regularly and feels he can’t disclose his self-harm experiences to other professionals. He now looks forward to the increased telephone and video calls from his worker that are helping him to manage his self-harming and drug-using behaviours. This example highlights the recovery-focused passion that our workers continue to share despite the circumstances, and how we are always trying to put the needs of our service users first. One of our workers spent time speaking with a treatment-naïve individual that just happened to be waiting in the street for a friend that was attending an appointment with our service. This person was street-homeless and had been using heroin and crack since the age of 14. Despite the strict guidelines in place to avoid transmission, the worker was able to safely organise an initial assessment, as she felt that if the person was offered a time to return the opportunity may be missed for them to follow through on their apparent desire to access treatment. He was extremely grateful for this quick thinking and left the service with his first-ever prescription for substitute medication, and was also issued with – and accepted – naloxone. He was supported to register with a GP and referred into OCAN [Offenders with Complex & Additional Needs] provision and the DWP to access benefit assistance. IT WILL GET BETTER One of our recovery support service users perfectly sums up how they have experienced our response during the lockdown: ‘I miss everyone at Open Road and can see how important the service is even more now through the COVID-19 pandemic. I have always isolated myself and shut myself away, feeling like a burden or a pathetic weak person who cannot even sort themselves out. Open Road helps me to feel like I am able and can try again and not give up.’ To our fellow service providers and service users who may be reading this, things will get better. Until this new normal allows us to fully resume helping even more people struggling with addiction, we will keep trying to showcase to others that recovery continues to be a possibility for anyone that seeks support at this most unusual time. Jody Leach is quality and treatment manager at Open Road WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM JULY/AUGUST 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 17