Barney was sleeping rough in West Dorset for 2 years and drinking heavily for much of this time. The outreach team in Dorset got to know him over this period and were able to build up some trust – Barney has had extremely traumatic incidents in his life and finds it difficult to put his scepticism to one side.
In March 2017 he moved into local authority temporary accommodation with the support of the outreach team and they have continued to go beyond their remit to provide support. Barney finds dealing with the ‘system’ – be that the local authority or DWP (department for work and pensions) – extremely stressful and starts to entertain thoughts of going back to his tent when he feels he can’t cope. When he is relaxed and happy, Barney has an incredibly extensive repertoire of slightly bad taste (and some very bad taste) jokes which he can deliver in the manner of a stand up routine – or just off the cuff to embarrass the team.
Barney relayed his own story through his outreach worker: “I was sleeping in a tent in Bridport for 2 years after splitting up with my wife. I was using alcohol to make life bearable on the street. It also helped me deal with losing my two sons – one in childhood and the other tortured and murdered as an adult. I finally realised that I didn’t want to drink anymore and managed to quit whilst still rough sleeping.
I became ill with bell’s palsy and went for respite at Pilsdon Manor. The Pilsdon Community helped me back on my feet, but I returned to the tent. The outreach team would come out first thing in the morning with coffee, they set up an assessment with the Housing Team at the local council and drove me over there. I was placed in temporary accommodation in Dorchester. I was referred to another organisation for support but didn’t build up the trust I had with the outreach team, so they continued to support me into my long term accommodation in sheltered housing. I wish I could say it has all been plain sailing, but I had to go on to Universal Credit when I moved and problems with that have caused me massive amounts of stress. On the plus side, I have been able to set up aquariums in my flat and I am a keen fisherman.