So he remained in foster care. Going from one unsuccessful placement to the next until he was 18, when considered an adult, he was expected to find his own way in life. Barely able to read and write and with little or no idea how to look after himself he moved from homeless hostel to hostel in almost every city and town in Ireland. It was mid 2014 when he first came to Mid West Simon. He was staying in a filthy squat.
Over the next few weeks he came regularly and when the winter days were particularly cold he came ever day for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat. One of our Housing Team workers got to know him quite well. Sometimes is wasn’t easy because when he visited the office he would be under the influence of alcohol or drugs—sometimes both – and this was hard on the staff. We’d help him find a bed in a hostel and things would be going great for a while but then he’d have a row with someone and he’d either be asked to leave or he’d just walk out with nothing but the clothes he was wearing.
The Support worker who knew him best would work with him around the impact that his drug taking and abuse of drink were having on his life and try to encourage him to think about rehab. He really wasn’t in a fit state to contemplate making such a change. Then last summer we got a call from a friend of his telling us that Alan was in hospital after an accidental overdose. While really not a positive or pleasant experience for him he finally made up his mind to work with us to see if he could begin the process of rehabilitation.
The Support worker arranged an initial meeting for him in a rehab centre and went with him for his assessment. Two weeks later Alan began a six-month residential programme.
The Support worker kept in constant contact with him during this time, encouraging him to stay when Alan felt hopeless and congratulating him as he reached his milestones. In December he moved to a half-way house where he was free to come and go but was still part of quite a structured routine. When time came for him to start his life anew with the support of our Housing Team he moved into an apartment of his own. They worked intensively with Alan, making sure bills are paid, that he’s attending his support group regularly and that he’s looking after himself and his home as he should. He’s now thinking of returning to school because he’s always wanted to become a carpenter.
He’s really good with his hands but first of all he’s engaging with a literacy and numeracy coach who has volunteered to work with him because he really has missed out on so much of these basis skills when he was growing up. He has a long, long way to go, and like all of us, he’ll no doubt experience the usual ups and downs along the way but without Mid West Simon and the Housing Team who knows where Alan would be now.