Our North Yorkshire Young People’s Pathway service supports young people aged 16-25, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. the service operates through two pathways – Pathway 1 aims to support young people to remain at home wherever possible, tackling relationship issues and making referrals for any specific support needs. The Pathway 2 is an accommodation based service. This service provides accommodation and support that tackles specific issues and builds the necessary skills and motivation for long term independent living.

Whenever a young person becomes homeless, there are very often associated issues, whether around mental health, drug and alcohol dependency, trauma of past experience, criminal behaviour or debt. Foundation looks holistically at each individual case to provide a tailored service meeting the needs of each young person they house so that in time they can move on to live independently and safely.

This case study has been kindly shared by Emma, a support worker for Foundation in Scarborough:
Support for Alcohol Dependency – Gemma*- North Yorkshire Young People’s Pathway in Scarborough (*name changed).

Gemma is 23 years old. She came to Foundation in September 2017 through the North Yorkshire Young People’s Pathway service (NYYPP) hub.  At the time she was living at home with her mother and step-father.  Her mother has longstanding mental health issues and her step-father is alcohol dependant.  Gemma felt that staying in the family home was having a detrimental effect on her own mental health and wanted to seek independence. She had no family or friends to turn to and was at risk of becoming homeless. She was referred through to the NYYPP Pathway 2, which is the accommodation and support service that Foundation offer to young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in North Yorkshire.

Gemma did not state in her initial assessment that she had issues with alcohol due to being embarrassed and also not really accepting that she had an issue. I completed a health assessment with Gemma and noticed she had put that she drinks over 10 units of alcohol on a daily basis.  I asked my colleagues in the hostel to be aware of this. Shortly after her arrival at Mercury House, there was an incident with Gemma where she self-harmed under the influence of alcohol.  Gemma was offered a referral to our local drug and alcohol agency Horizons.

Gemma was the first customer I have ever supported that was so keen to accept help and strive for change. Through our discussions, Gemma had realised she had been drinking daily for two years and admitted that she couldn’t remember how life was or could be without alcohol. It became clear that Gemma was extremely misinformed of the dangers of heavy alcohol consumption and as a consequence, she had no idea that in quitting her drinking without support, she could also be in serious danger. Gemma began to understand why she needed support to quit her drinking, and although she was keen to get started and make positive changes, she was very nervous about attending the group sessions that Horizon offer.

Due to Gemma’s anxiety around being in groups and meeting new people, I attend the first few weeks of sessions alongside her. Gemma attended every appointment and joined the anxiety group.  She reduced from 43 units per day to 28.  Gemma took an interest in getting support from our local Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group.

I asked Laura and Rachel from NA to visit Gemma at Mercury House so that she was not being thrown straight into another group situation and so that she at least knew two other people who attended the group. Gemma really appreciated the ladies coming to the hostel and they both told her their stories and she was really inspired by them both, especially Laura as she had been alcohol dependant and was now three years clean.  The ladies asked if Gemma would like to go to the meeting that evening with them and she said she definitely would. It was amazing how meeting another person who had been in a similar position and had made such huge changes to their own life put Gemma at ease, and inspired her to take part in an activity despite her anxieties.

Gemma has attended up to three meetings a week since January and has been so much more positive about the future and visibly happier. Gemma is now preparing for a home detox which she will do here at Mercury House, with the support of staff from Foundation and Horizons.