Since the age of 15 Ash had been living between homes; at times with extended family or on friends sofa’s, other times in supported housing, hostels and bedsits and sometimes sleeping rough. Over the last 15 years of his life, from adolescence through to adulthood, Ash became dependent on drugs and lived an unstable and chaotic life.

Ash is a charming, intelligent man but over the years has made bad choices which were having a lasting impact on his life and relationships with family. In 2015, shortly after his 28th birthday he had a moment of clarity and came to Care Network Hub (then Your Support Your Choice), to try and change the direction that his life was going in.

Care Network Hub: Initially Ash presented as street homeless and was provided with a non-judgemental, warm safe and accessible place, offering reassurance, clarification and signposting to services. Due to the complexity of Ash’s situation, Care Network Hub staff made a referral to MEAM and Transforming Lives for intensive coordinated multi-agency support.

CGL, Inspire: Ash was signposted to Inspire, Blackburn with Darwen's Substance Misuse Service. Although over time, seeing people he knew and shared history with made it too easy for him to fall back into old habits; he started missing appointments and struggled to stay on track.

CANW - Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) and Street Reach: When Ash was homeless in 2015 they supported him towards creating the life he wanted. Focussing on lack of a stable home, MEAM worked with housing needs and agencies to secure and help furnish a one bedroom flat, the first sole tenancy he’d ever held ‘I got my own place, a girlfriend, I was working – everything was going good – I thought I’d cracked it’.

Care Network, Keeping Well: Through Transforming Lives he was offered key worker support from Care Network to work alongside his MEAM support; who would be a point of contact for Ash if he was struggling. Ash had difficulty managing his temper which over the years made it difficult for him to stay in education or continue to work with services, he found himself banned from buildings and being asked to leave. Staff at Care Network Hub got to know him and offered him support to calm down, giving him time to make himself understood, which in turn helped him feel less frustrated and behave in a calmer way. He was then able to start to consider and dream about the life he wanted and make steps towards his goals.

At this point Ashley was stepped down from MEAM and remained open to Keeping Well project. He would access Care Network Hub when he needed information, signposting or support for any health and wellbeing needs.

Ash was now living independently and on the first round of Universal Credit claimants. He struggled to budget and was unable to pay for gas, electricity or food. Over the coming months he started to let people stay over, and after a while his tenancy was becoming at risk due to nuisance noise and reports of anti-social behaviour and drug use. The combination of factors affected Ash’s stability, substance misuse, physical and mental health. The combination of his financial restrains and increasingly chaotic lifestyle resulted in his BMI becoming dangerously low.  

‘At that point I was coming back in here [Care Network Hub] as much as possible, to get out the house. I was walking around all day – always tried to be out. I was unhappy, at times suicidal, not eating and I’d lost a lot of weight’.

Care Network Hub: Continuing to provide Ash with a non-judgemental, safe, familiar place he could come to, where he had a good rapport with staff. The flexible drop in nature of the hub allowed him to get support and reassurance from services when he needed. Due to his deteriorated health and increasing drug use he was reopened to intensive support services but was increasingly struggling to manage his frustrations and keep appointments.

MEAM: By coincidence in July 2018 the MEAM team happened to be in Care Network Hub on a particularly bad day for Ash. He was upset, frustrated and frightened that his life was spiralling out of control again after his drug use became an increasing issue. They were able to make a number of calls and secured him a place in a long term rehabilitation centre.

THOMAS: Ash was offered a last minute slot on a six month residential rehabilitation programme with THOMAS and at the end of December 2018 he graduated from the twelve step programme.

 ‘On the first day they were going to chuck me out, discharge me for my behaviour. I’d given my flat up, my dog, given everything up. At the time giving up my dog was the only reason I stayed, the first couple of months I felt really alone. They’ve made me work really hard. Focussing on underlying issues I’ve realised things about myself. The spirituality of the twelve steps has really worked for me’

During his time working through the twelve step programme Ash has also completed his Health and Social Care Level 1 and has decided to pursue a career to work in recovery and support other addicts. He’s been to a local primary school during Alcohol Awareness Week and stood up and spoke alongside staff at THOMAS in front of a class of year six pupils and teachers ‘I was really nervous, but I did it – and the kids, they asked me the hardest questions, seriously deep questions.’

During the last six months Ash has volunteered for Care Network, helping to raise money for Macmillan at a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event and has volunteering at CANW by decorating one of their therapeutic spaces. 

Barriers: Living in unsettled accommodation and having substance misuse issues throughout his formative years, losing contact with family and positive social networks and having addictions has meant that it’s been particularly difficult for Ash to make and sustain positive changes. Other setbacks have been his social circles, poverty, issues with Universal Credit, unsettled accommodation - all having a detrimental effect on his health and resilience.

Health and wellbeing Outcomes: Ash’s long term goal was to stop taking drugs and have a stable work and home life. Over the last three years Ash has worked towards and now achieved abstinence. At times he self-managed well and other times his life would become more chaotic. Each step, whether forward, sideways or backwards has made him more determined. The combined services involved with Ash over this time have worked with him to help him realise his potential.

 ‘I knew I had potential to be a better person. I feel confident in myself, I don’t feel vulnerable or reliant on anybody anymore. I feel like I’m more than capable to go out into the world and do my own stuff. I’m saving, getting back in to education. I know I’ll always have the support here [Care Network Hub] if I need it. I’ve met some really good friends, the majority in recovery. I go to regular meetings NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and I have my family back….  You guys have the patience of saints, it always felt like you were really trying, and I’m really grateful.’

Ash graduated from THOMAS and has moved to supported accommodation within the recovery community. He has been accepted on to a level 2 Social Care course starting in January 2019 and has taken up two volunteering positions, one within THOMAS and one with CANW. He will be spending Christmas with his family.

Collaborative working and a multi-agency approach: Services in Blackburn with Darwen have all taken the time, been flexible, worked together and believed in Ash. He remained in touch with staff at Care Network throughout.

To find out more about Care Network Hub.. click here 

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