When you entered our follow-up, Mr. N.*, we had to collect a maximum of data concerning you, in order to accompany you as well as possible. That's when I received an e-mail from a member of your network that took me aback. It was a rather discouraging message, saying that you had chosen to live on the street anyway and that you had always refused to live in housing. This is obviously not the first time I've heard this kind of thinking, but it's still surprising. So let's drop it?

© P-Y Jortay

And yet...

It took time to look for you, to approach you, to insist while respecting your rhythm... but today, after a few months, we can already notice a clear evolution in your situation. The first meetings were complicated. You had a shifty look in your eyes, a speech that went in all directions and it was difficult to have a conversation for more than 5 minutes. It seemed impossible to make a connection.

And yet...

One day, you agreed to go for a coffee with us. My colleague and I were surprised, even more so when you agreed to accompany us to a health center for a wellness moment! We spent the whole morning with you that day. Since then, you look us straight in the eye, smile at us, ask about us, remember our names and, above all, accept our accompaniment.

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were looking for you. From a distance I see a figure that looks like yours, but it is not the same head at all. The long hair and the beard are gone. I tell myself I need new glasses... I meet your eyes, your eyes sparkling and an embarrassed smile.

Wow, what a transformation! But that's not all. You pull out documents from your pocket and proudly show off the social steps you've just completed without needing any assistance.

So yes, these are just details in the eyes of some, but for me they are nice little victories that make sense and make me smile.

The last few times we talked about housing, you seemed interested. There are still many hurdles to overcome before we reach this goal. I am well aware that there will always be ups and downs but that is part of the recovery journey.

Working with non-demand is not always easy to understand, but since joining this team, I can't help but notice that there is always a demand behind the denials.

Without you, there's no us

(*) We make every effort to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. Nevertheless, we want to bear witness to how they have to survive and how we work together to reintegrate them. Therefore, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in another context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

© P-Y Jortay - Street Nurses 2021