A county councillor from Thanet is highlighting a breakdown of care for ex-prisoners after an appeal from a woman desperate to find help for her brother.
Cllr Emma Dawson has taken on the case of a 32-year-old Margate man who is currently sleeping rough and is suffering from hearing voices and experiencing volatile emotions and delusions.
The man, who has asked not to be named to protect his children, served five months in Elmley prison last year for driving offences and was housed in the Glenwood Hotel after his release with the length of his stay being extended during the severe weather.
But when that placement came to an end after Christmas he was left with nowhere to go.
His sister Cheryl says he resorted to sofa surfing but his behaviour, induced by hearing voices and seeing things, has led to people being unable to continue to have him in their homes.
Last month he went to St Martin’s Hospital in Canterbury for mental health help but was released after four days and is now homeless.
Cllr Dawson said: “His sister is desperate for help for him and this is a case which is high level and should be high priority.
“I’ve spoken to Porchlight and although they have his name on their list and try to call him daily to see if he is ok they cannot provide him with shelter. There is no help available for him whatsoever which highlights a complete breakdown of care for ex-prisoners.
“If he is going through this how many others are? He seems to have been turned away from every single resource and this highlights that the safety net is not there.
“I think he has been failed by the system.”
‘No-one is helping’
The man said he is desperate for help but also embarrassed by his situation.
He said: “It is the same story but a different day. I feel like I’m just waiting for everything. After I got released from prison I was at the Glenwood for eight months but then I was told I was not a priority and had seven days to leave. I’ve lived in this area all my life, I’ve paid my council tax and my bills and don’t owe anything.
“I just want someone to take notice and to listen. I see people from outside the area being housed and yet I’m told I am not priority even though I have lived here all my life. I don’t understand why no-one is helping.”
‘Screaming for help’
Cheryl, who lives outside of Thanet with her four children, said: “My brother has tried to commit suicide twice and hears voices. It’s taken a long time to convince him to get help and now he’s asking nobody is helping him.
“I contacted local MPs last week begging for help and contacted Porchlight. We were told he’s on a waiting list.
“He crumbled (this week) and I managed to talk him out of trying to take his own life but he resorted to smashing a random person’s car and starting a fight, so someone would call the police and he would get arrested.
“He said the voices in his head were telling him to kill people. He is screaming for help and nobody is helping him. I have tried every day ringing places and no one can help.”
He was released without charge but is now sleeping on the streets. Cheryl is unable to take him in because his behaviour could put her children at risk.
She said: “He needs help. My brother just wants a normal life, he wants to find a job, but he can’t do that with nowhere to stay and no help.”
He suffered what Cheryl describes as a ‘psychotic’ episode for the first time some five years ago. At the time he was married with three children and running a successful property maintenance business.
Cheryl said: “About five years ago he started doing strange stuff, pulling out the bed and saying there was a coin there with the devil in it. He went completely off the rails. They (health services) said it was a drug psychosis. I explained that my mum has mental health issues and has previously been sectioned but no-one ever came up with an explanation.”
Cheryl said her brother had sought help and was being supported by an advocate but lost touch when he went to prison.
She disputes that her brother’s problems are caused by addiction rather than poor mental health. She has lodged a complaint over the process of his assessment at St Martin’s.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust confirmed a complaint had been made but were unable to comment on the case due to it being under investigation.
‘He is a person’
Cheryl said: “This man is my brother, he has a heart, he is a person and not just a number on a piece of paper. He’s my children’s uncle, he’s a friend, he’s a dad.
“The fact no one is helping is shocking. If he is going through this, then there must be many more. These people are being failed and this is why male suicide is so high.”
‘What is a priority?’
Cllr Dawson says she is continuing in efforts to find help for the dad-of-three. She said: “If he was able to be treated he would hopefully calm down and then he would be better placed to receive therapy.
“I can’t believe there is no temporary emergency accommodation. I have highlighted this case and was advised he was not a priority. So, my question is, what is a priority?”
An appointment has now been made for the man to attend The Beacon community mental health centre on August 20 and to meet with someone from the Aspire homelessness project tomorrow (Friday).
Prisoners and homelessness
According to a report by national charity homeless link:
- The total prison population in the UK is 84,7462 of which approximately 66,000 leave each year.
- Figures show that 15% of men and 13% of women in prison listed ‘no fixed abode’ as their accommodation status when leaving.
- Some 23% people accessing homeless accommodation projects and 16% of day centres have had recent
contact with the criminal justice system
- 15% of newly sentenced people in prison reported being homeless before entering custody
- Research by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) showed that 79% of those who were previously homeless went on to be convicted in the first year after being released.
- Approximately 6 in 10 female prisoners have nowhere to go to on release from prison.
Thanet council has been asked for comment.
Contact charity Shelter here
Find mental health support groups here
You are in the wrong party Emma, it’s the Tory policy of austerity that is the problem, you mean well but by voting Tory you are guilty of harming people.
Why make this a political issue Barry ? Politicians from all sides spend too much time and effort sniping at each other rather than doing their best for the area they represent and the people that live in it.
Can you please detail the practical help and assistance that YOU have provided for this particular constituent – or what YOU intend to do about it now that you are aware of the problem ?
And when did this local scandal of homelessness begin? Actual street homelessness was much, much less before 2010. We know why its changed so much – the socialy disastrous policies of the
Coalition and subsequent tory govt. To hear tories and lib dems bemoan the effects of savage cuts to welfare while at the same time supporting their party line on Austerity is either stupidity or hypocrisy. I imagine a mixture of both.
This has been a problem for years. Not enough assistance for released prisoners and no help for those with mental health issues or homelessness. Political Parties say they will help but,dare I say it, the voters don’t agree and vote,instead, for Parties that promise to reduce taxes and to cut back services. This is the result. It often causes distress and disbelief for the victims and for their supportive friends and family. Because we are always being told that we have a caring society and that we have a health service for all and we have Social Services and Social Security etc. Some people clearly believe we have TOO MUCH help for the vulnerable and they moan about where all their taxes are going etc. But this poor man’s situation reveals the truth. We have never really provided a truly comprehensive Welfare State that helps everybody, especially the very vulnerable and needy.So well-meaning Conservative councillors like Emma Dawson thrash around trying to get help that isn’t really there and , all the while, I fear that she really doesn’t understand that her Party, and others, never put the necessary services in place, and are now cutting back what little there is. Just look at the explosion in Food Banks to cope with the families , often in work, who do not have enough money to feed themselves. Sympathy, and appeals to compassion, are not enough. We need proper resources put into the care of the mentally ill, released prisoners and the homeless.And no “gatekeeping” where officials decide who is “eligible” and “deserving” and who is not.
Come to drapers mill school tomorrow and see what I am doing for the community, what are YOU doing?
Barry Lewis – you and your type are one of the reasons I no longer even consider voting Labour. Always trying to gain political points even though someone is trying to help this man who has fallen on hard times. Is the Draper school thing wholly run by YOU. This I doubt. Look at the recent history of Labour in government before casting stones and accept the financial mess we ended up in as a result. Model yourself on Frank Field for example and my view would change.
I suggest that we all check out the actual policies of all the main Parties to identify which one will actually divert resources from the tax-avoiding wealthy to use to help the needy. Which Party will curb the excesses of the Banks and the City of London investors so that we don’t have a repeat of the 2008 American Wall Street crash spreading to Britain? Which Party is committed to building affordable homes and more social housing for rent so that the low paid have a chance of a home. Which Party will increase spending on the NHS so that the mentally-ill get the treatment needed? As a way of finding out which Party will really tax the rich and powerful so that the resources can be better spent to help people in need such as the man discussed in this article, look no further than the Party which is being smeared as anti-semitic and attacked and rubbished in the establishment’s newspapers every day! THAT will be the Party that willactually DO something!
I got the biggest swing for Labour in the whole country in May 2017, as a socialist I do not work alone, all my role is to get like minded people to work together, I was not a member of new labour because it was doomed because Blair/brown are not socialist . The Labour vote increased at the last election by a record amount, not enough to secure outright victory, come to drapers mill and ask the people of Margate what they think of me, by the way why do you hide your name?
How clever of Cllr. Lewis to play party politics when a man’s needs and perhaps life demand humanitarian action. Good for Cllr. Emma Dawson for highlighting a desperate need.
Cllr Lewis just makes clear that labour extremists value column inches in their desperate search for momentum policies far more that the needs of the people.
this is not about politics.. this about a man whom every single profession has failed. my brother.. in desperate need and nowhere is helping. the suicide rate in men is so high and this is why! as a man it’s looked at as embarrassing to admit to a mental health problem and it has taken me 4 years of pleading with my brother to ask for help. before you judge.. just think about your brother ringing you distraught telling you he wants to go to sleep and not wake up.. and then actually following it through.. more than once. these professions.. the mental health service and the council need to wake up and look around at the failing they have done here!!
I am reluctant to disagree with someone such as Cheryl who is in such understandable distress about her brother but, sorry, it IS about politics. This young man has been failed, but not by professionals in the mental health services or at the Council etc. He has been failed by the politicians who vote through cut backs in welfare provision and by the voters who put them into power. I don’t doubt that the health and housing professionals who are involved took up their jobs because they wanted to actually HELP people. But they find that they do not have the resources to do their job. The most caring professional in the world cannot magic a flat or house or mental health bed into existence when it isn’t there. As I said, this has been going on for years and it has suited cynical politicians to blame the people who work in the various cash-strapped Services when things go wrong. Or, just as sickeningly, they blame the “immigrants” or the “foreigners” rather than increase the cash available. Happily re-elected on promises to deal with the “immigrant problem” , they carry on cutting back the money for the Welfare State even more. Sorry, again, but it IS about politics.