Saturday, 17 July 2010

Being Homeless

Life has not been easy over the last couple of weeks but I have survived thanks to the support of some lovely people. I would like to be able to say that it was the staff from the CMHT but it wasn't. I have had contact with CMHT staff almost every day since I left the house, but it has rarely been the same person twice and it seems that we go over the same things every day.

When I was seeing the Home Treatment Team when I came out of hospital the first time, my biggest complaint was that they seemed to work to a formula. It was always the same questions, and you could almost see the cogs going round in their brain as they mentally ticked off the questions. How have you been sleeping? How is your appetite? How are you feeling? What is your mood like?

When I became homeless, a room was found for me in the respite home that I stayed in after my first hospital admission. Unfortunately, it was only for five nights, which meant that last Monday somewhere else had to be found. The staff in this respite home are absolutely wonderful. Nothing is too much for them and yet they are almost certainly on minimum wage and have no formal training for the job that they do. they ensure that we have a good home-cooked meal every evening and that there is always someone who you can talk to if you need it. The house has nine bedrooms (two of which are for long-stay residents) which means that it is not an easy place to get in to. Run for the benefit of the local mental health trust, a week's stay costs £55 which is never going to break the bank and means that it can be afforded by just about anyone.

My stay there coincided with the long run of hot weather which meant that I spent much of my time sitting in the garden under the umbrella. I did some knitting, some puzzles, and played some games on my Nintendo DSi (this has to be one of the best investments that I have ever made). The knitting progressed slowly, but progressed nonetheless. Even though I did not sit in direct sun at any time during my time there, I came away with well tanned arms which means that my hands and arms no longer look like porcelain.

Last Monday I had to move from the respite home so with my belongings packed in the boot of a taxi, I made a tearful farewell to the lovely lady who is the home's manager with exhortations that I must visit them regularly for a cup of tea and a chat.

The move of temporary accommodation has found me in a hostel most of the inhabitants of which are men with drink and/or drugs problems. While many of the inmates leave a lot to be desired in the way of cleanliness, once again the facility is lucky in its staff. The manager and deputy manager have looked after me very well ensuring that I had a room on the first floor so that I didn't have to climb multiple flights of stairs to get to my room (my arthritic hip is giving me quite a lot of problems at the moment).

I am the only person in the facility who is not on benefits of any kind which means that I have to pay for my board and lodging out of my pensions. The problem with this is that the sum paid weekly by the benefits people for each of the inmates that they support is actually higher than I receive as a pension (well, four pensions actually; two occupational pensions of my own and two occupational widow's pensions in respect of my husband, both of which would cease if I was to remarry or even formally cohabit with a new partner). The manager has negotiated with the head office of the company that runs this hostel and it has been agreed that I can pay half the normal rate, but at £190 a week, this is still considerably more that I paid at the respite home.

The difference between the two places could not be more extreme, but at least I have a roof over my head. Hopefully, this situation will be rectified in a week or so. I have found a ground-floor studio flat a few hundred yards from where I was living and hope that I will be able to complete all the financial aspects over the next week and then be able to move in. Being in the same locality as my former residence means that I don't need to change doctors, and I will be even closer to the bus stop serving the buses that I use most often. In fact it is just a few yards from my new front door.

Last Tuesday was the day of my surgery and I am now on heavy duty painkillers and antibiotics. Sitting is at times painful, but each day gets easier and I am hoping that I will be pain-free in a couple more days. I was warned that I would suffer a great deal of pain after the operation, but it has not been as bad as I thought it might be, and I now have to hope that the problem does not arise again.

I am going to try to get to a location that offers free
wi-fiaccess every couple of days over the next few weeks so that I can keep you up to date with how things are going. I would also like to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes over this difficult period. Bloggers really are the nicest people and it means a lot to me that so many have taken the time to send me a few words of encouragement.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were able to find places to stay. And that you've found yourself a new flat to move into. I hope you are able to move in sooner rather than later.

I hope your pain subsides and that you continue to recover from surgery. I'm keeping my fingers crossed too that the problem does not recur.

Wishing you well,

Lily said...

Glad to see that you've posted again. I hope that you managed to get near an internet connection again soon as the blogging-world just isn't the same without you.

I really hope the studio flat near where you used to live works out, and soon. The place you're staying now doesn't sound ideal!

Anonymous said...

I am glad you have found somewhere to get online and post something to tell us how you are doing, I think there has not been a day gone by when I've not wondered how you have been doing... if you lived up North I'd gladly offered you my spare room free of charge (that goes for anyone that's in dire need!).

I guess we don't often realise how lucky we are sometimes to have a roof over our heads and somewhere to sleep at night, I met a guy when I was in hospital last year who was homeless and I remember thinking how disgusted I was when the hospital staff threw him out onto the streets when he was discharged and how me and a friend that I made in hospital rallied around to ensure he had enough money to tie him over for at least 48 hours to get a good meal or two, and my friend ended up giving him a decent coat she had so he wouldn’t be cold. Ironically I later found out last week through the voluntary job I am doing now the service I am working for eventually sorted him out some hostel accommodation in Manchester two days later, they remember him well because of his injury and his circumstances so we knew we were talking about the same lad!

Take care of yourself... if you don’t mind I’d love you to email me your new address when you have it so I can send a card to you (I promise I’m not some weird internet stalker!) x

steph said...


Having read this account I'll admit, I'm gob smacked!

To lose your home would be devastating enough for most people but then to be shunted between a respite home and a hostel and undergo some surgery as well... I'm in total awe of how brilliantly you're coping with everything at the moment!

I can't help but feel that you are at your happiest with some form of supervision as long as it allows you plenty of independence.

Is there any possibility of you getting a permanent place in respite care?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'm pleased to see you've blogged & have somewhere to live, but so sorry to hear what a tough time you've been having of it. I'm up North but have a sofa if you get really stuck!
The charging policy for your accomodation is outrageously unfair. Are you getting DLA? From what I know from your blog you should qualify for at least the lower rate care component & possibly lower rate mobility.
Best of luck with the next move, fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. BG Xx

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to write as anything would seem quite pathetic really in the face of your upheavals.
I really just want to say 'good on you for being so upbeat, when I'm sure I would be lamenting and languishing. ' x