A female tenant has just moved on from one of our Hope into Action homes in Eastbourne. We got to know her through the Winter Night Shelter in 2019 and she moved into the house we support through Hope into Action. When I first met her, she kept herself to herself, wouldn’t make eye contact or speak much, she looked broken. I was part of the church volunteer friendship and support group at the time so I got to know her a little. On appearance she seemed to make no visible progress in her time at the house, though she kept the house tidy, met regularly with the volunteer friendship and support group and ran us through a few hoops at times. But to outside observers not much else…
In reality, she has remained clean and off heroin for four and a half years now, the longest she has remained clean. She kept up with all her appointments with her CGL worker (CGL is the drug and alcohol service in Eastbourne). She has managed to sustain a healthy friendship with the church volunteers and still sees them weekly. She has stopped spending time with old friends and keeps away from her abusive ex-partner and has a good relationship with her son. She never wanted to engage with any church activities or events or even offers of prayer. However, after one of her interviews for her possible new accommodation as she was leaving my car she turned and said “You know that God you pray to? Will you send a prayer up for me please?” This blew me away, and of course I and others have and are continuing to pray for her. At any time we can make a decision to change or make changes and God listens at any point.
Towards the end of her tenancy, she opened up about abuse that had happened to her as a young teenager and lasted until her early twenties. I wished that she had been able to tell me that earlier so I could have helped her or at least signposted her to the right place. I realised this is not about me but how she was feeling, she had started to trust me and when you look after people who have chaotic lives, they have very little trust in the world around them or the people in it. Recently I learnt that 85% of people in active addiction or recovering from addiction have had a childhood trauma. That is a huge number. There is often a lot more to people’s lives than we ever know.
I still visit her and she shared recently and asked me to join her in her online recovery group which is a Christian based group. She has been approached to consider becoming a volunteer advisor for CGL. She is maintaining her tenancy and is looking to approach the Mental Health team about her problems.
Sometimes it’s not always obvious what ‘success’ is in the process of supporting those who are vulnerable.
Empowerment Worker – Hope into Action, Eastbourne