Today, I met Mr. H.
Some time ago we decided to include him in our follow-up. He squatted with a patient who had been housed by Street Nurses. That became a problem as this patient risked losing his home. That’s why we visited Mr. H regularly in a tube station or a laundromat where he spent his days.
That was during the time when he had lost his home and his social situation was deteriorating seriously. He drank a lot and, no longer capable of handling his affairs by himself, he needed much help.
Little by little we helped him to stabilise his social situation, getting him a place to sleep in an emergency shelter and giving him an opportunity to think about the future.
In the meantime, he also spent time in prison, which suspended his entitlements. When released, he had no income and, therefore, no possibility of a home.
In this complicated situation, he was left with no other choice than returning to the street. And there he started drinking again to endure this inhuman condition.
Until the moment when he decided to look at his situation with different eyes: rather than allow the failing system to destroy him, he took matters in his own hands and pro-actively started to put his affairs in order.
And that’s how we meet Mr. H today in a snack bar, very chic and looking well, holding a photo album he found in the street, in which he keeps all his documents to avoid losing them. He’s up against administrative slowness and that complicates his affairs.
But he remains in good spirits and remains actively involved!
Outsiders are often full of prejudice about homeless people. And seeing what Mr. H has to go through, we realise that much needs to be improved to allow these people, who we meet every day, quickly to leave street life behind.
Elisabeth, street nurse
(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.