Dear old Gone showed up at our door the other week. He’d just been released from prison, where he’s spent the summer. It’s almost an annual event, him showing up in September, homeless, almost like he has a plan to help new Ministry Trainees learn good doorstep skills.
He’d thrown his prison release paperwork in the bin and first went to Rev Very Benevolent over in the next tow-un to ours. Rev V-B tried to help Gone find somewhere to live, but sadly the housing group who’d accommodated him before said they wouldn’t take him on. In fact, they’d been about to evict him before he went to jail.
The trouble for Gone is that he’s not really a criminal. He shouldn’t really be in jail. He’s a vulnerable and increasingly frail man with a serious alcohol addiction. And he’s enormously annoying and quite scary when he’s in the drink. And then charming and sweet and can talk the socks off anyone who’ll listen. But he’s frightened and anxious about other people, which makes him a pretty dire neighbour. And he can cause trouble and stress when he turns up somewhere boozed up. What he needs is something like an old fashioned asylum, where he’s not allowed out, not allowed alcohol, and not given his own money. He’d spent £75 of his getting-out-of-prison money on a portable dvd player and some dvds. He could have had a couple of nights in a hotel for that. But he’s incapable of spending money wisely and no-one will house him for long. So I guess in some ways he knew what would happen next.
Rev V-B contacted me a few days later to say that Gone had been conspicuous by his absence for a few days. And that he’d had a call to say that Gone would be up before a magistrate for another breach of his ASBO. So it looks like the prison service is once again expensively accommodating a vulnerable man who doesn’t fit in the system. And maybe it’s the only way that will work for him. It does seem crazy though. Pray with us for wisdom to know how to help him in his next foray back into the world a few months (I guess) from now.