Telling Your Story Once
Complex needs is a tricky area to understand, compartmentalise and treat. Address one area, and the other may come to the surface. Aggravated and in need of attention. Put down the drugs and if not treated, the mind can go. Usually, it is true to say that when support gets offered in one area, the others follow suit. But the existing system is not set up to address them all together. That’s why IF Group Bristol are getting involved in “Telling Your Story Once”.
I have my own experience to draw on. I had been living in supported housing for almost 18 months. Dry house living means that you get a support worker, get drug tested to ensure that everyone in the community is living in line with the rules and regulations. Policies and procedures are set up so that staff and clients understands these rules. No drinking and no drug taking. Relapse policy is quite often black and white – if you use any substance then you are asked to leave. So suddenly you are homeless at a time when you need help.
Where do you go for this help? The individual concerned now has to present to the Council that they are homeless, which the only immediate help offered is the local hostel. These hostels are littered with offenders just released from prison, homeless people who have been offered emergency beds and the majority percentage are using drugs and/ or drinking alcohol. Not the place to be going when in crisis.
I was in a situation where I picked up alcohol and a spliff after a while of being clean off the heroin and crack. It was a miracle I had got so far. I decided on my own thinking to come off my mental health medication which I was prescribed for bi-polar and PTSD as I felt ‘so well’. I was not able to get the relevant support I needed.
Going from service to service and relaying my story, my past using history, criminal convictions, mental health diagnosis and triggers, relationship patterns and details, sexual abuse, rape and then how I am feeling today on a scale from one to ten. It is enough to send anyone over the edge. But when you are having to do this three times in one day – the most natural reaction for any human being would be to want to take something to elevate the pain, run away or hide from reality.
We are in the process of setting up “Telling Your Story Once” (TYSO) – a system where both the client and service provider can access this information in a stress free way. How can services work in a more cohesive way? How can we all start sharing information and keeping the wellbeing of the individual at the centre of system change.