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Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category

We were not only greeted by a scraggy old flytipped sofa in our drive on our return home last week. As we unloaded the kids, the camping gear and wet swimming towels from the car, we also spotted a couple of items which made us think that we might soon again be seeing Gone, our on/off doorstep lodger.

The traditional bottle of Frosty Jack in our flowerbed

We were proved right the next morning, when he sat on our doorstep until lunchtime and tried to persuade the Vicar to ‘do just one small thing’ for him (take him out to McDonalds). After our previous experiences with Gone, we now say that we will take him to Betel to start rehabilition, but that is all we will do for him. Anything else seems only to sustain his destructive lifestyle and terrible cycle of living rough followed by living at Her Majesty’s pleasure. In the meantime, he’s back in our drive, sometimes singing loudly at 6am, sometimes aggressive, sometimes sad and wanting to talk. Pray that we are able to treat him with grace as his behaviour seems so intractable, and pray that his self-destruction stops.

Some information that Gone is too far gone to really make use of...

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Oh dear. A loud ring on the doorbell at quarter to eight this morning. The Vicar went down to greet the postman. And alongside him, on the Vicarage doorstep, was Gone. Just like he was this time last year.

If you’ve started reading since last summer, you’ll not know that Gone is homeless man, an alcoholic, who spent six weeks or so living on our doorstep last summer. His presence was rather all-consuming at the time, so we’re a little wary of his reappearance.

He’s been in prison for ten months and is out on licence. So he only lasted a couple more months on the street after we firmly told him we were only going to help him to help himself by going to Betel. We didn’t have the strength to supply any more cheese on toast. And the Queen needed her sleep (he had a propensity to sing loudly and drunkenly under her window at 5am).

Since he left, though, Betel have opened a shop in our town, so the Vicar has gone down there with him now to see if Gone can overcome his anxieties enough to get himself onto Betel’s excellent programme. Watch this space for more news… (and if you want to read the rest of Gone’s story, there’s a box  on the right hand side of the blog, with all my previous posts from last summer).

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Gone was on our doorstep at 6.30am today (Polly heard him, thankfully the Vicar and I were still asleep). He rang the doorbell on and off from 6.55am, but was gone by the time we were all downstairs from breakfast at around 8 o’clock. The Queen’s bedroom is just above the front door and she told me that he was singing loudly about chocolate. There were two bottles of Frosty Jack on the drive.

Yesterday we tried to help him get sorted out with the benefits system. He said that noone was able to help him.

If you dont know it, youre in a fix

If you don't know it, you're in a fix

Gone has forgotten his National Insurance number because he’s suffering from alcoholic dementia. He has no identification documents because he’s lost them all, so is struggling to prove his identity. Without an NI number he can’t claim benefits and therefore can’t even get a place in a homeless hostel. He’s frightened, ill and frustrated. And I don’t blame him.

The Vicar let Gone use the phone to speak to the Job Centre that he’s always dealt with, but because he can’t remember his NI number, they were unable to help. You need two forms of identification – you know, utility bills, passport – and he doesn’t have them.

Later, after Gone had left, I spoke to our local Job Centre Plus, the West Midlands Probation Service (Gone is less than a month out of prison but is without a probation officer), Walsall Probation office, Sandwell Adult Social Services, Aquarius (the Sandwell alcohol service), a Sally Army hostel, the Birmingham homelessness team, the local housing office and the local emergency homelessness team. Everyone I spoke to was sympathetic and helpful, but were stumped about how to help.

The emergency homeless team said they might be able to do a bit more with some more input from him, so next time he’s here in office hours I shall call them so I can mediate for him. In the meantime I’m going to call the central National Insurance office and the mental health services to see if there is any more advice available.

At the moment he seems to falling through a hole in a system designed to stop identity theft. He’s not trying to steal an identity. He’s just forgetting his own.

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It’s been another busy week at the Vicarage. Not only do we have Polly and the baby still in residence, but we’ve had Voice staying as well. Voice loves to lead singing in church and is on a week’s work experience with another local church. We are just providing accommodation for Voice as she’s spending most of her time with the other church, singing in services and meetings and helping out with their activities.

Voice is only fifteen, so it’s been interesting having her stay. We’ve been trying to get her to give us the inside track on being a teenager so we are better prepared to handle our gang when they hit those challenging years. Her capacity for sleep is enormous, even to the extent of being completely comotose through our jet-engine sounding shower pump going.

Gone has called at our front door three times in the last week, drunk, homeless and very sad. This morning I gave him a cup of coffee and a sandwich as he sat on the front step, waiting to speak to the Vicar. As he added more Frosty Jack to his coffee, he became more restless and abusive.

Frosty Jack

Frosty Jack

I was trying to find out about local hostels for him when he finally left. He couldn’t wait for the Vicar. The booze had made him too jittery. One minute he was weeping and admitting the mess he’s in, the next he was swearing and threatening to throw lighted paraffin over the front door.

I didn’t feel in any danger, though. As spoke to him softly, I could see the self-loathing in his eyes. And the Vicar and his elders were meeting in the study.

He probably won’t find a hostel place, though, cos he’s on the booze. He told me that he’s thinking about doing something to get himself locked up. At least in prison you are fed and given a warm bed. He’s 51, and has been told that he’ll die soon, given the state of his liver. He keeps warm by begging for a day saver ticket and then spending all day on the bus. That way he can cope with being out all night.

He needs too much help to stay with us. I can only pray and feed him sandwiches and gentle answers.

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A Snowy View

Here’s a snap I took in the snow on the way home from our mum’s coffee morning today.

Snowy Days in the Inner City

Snowy Days in the Inner City

You may not be able to read the strapline across the pale blue at the top of the can: ‘Enjoy Extra Cold’. I guess the drinker who deposited this with the fag end was probably extra cold. Not sure about the enjoyment part in this weather though.

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