Equinox Wandsworth Outreach Team - persistence pays off with Maria

Posted by on 6 August 2014 | 0 Comments

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In April 2014, Maria was living in the local graveyard, when she came into contact again with the Equinox Wandsworth Outreach Service. The Equinox Wandsworth team provides interventions including facilitating access to treatment and accessing stable housing for service users.

The photo above was the wake up call Maria needed, after years of trying to change her habits and lifestyle.

Maria is 38 years old. She was born in Wandsworth and is a former shop assistant. The Equinox Wandsworth team had previously known Maria over a period of 3 years, when she accessed services provided by the Equinox Housing Floating Support team.

Maria first started to drink in her teens, after the death of a favourite uncle. Maria said she drank 'to ease the pain'. From then on, Maria used alcohol and later drugs to ease the pain of homelessness, the loss of her two children to social services and periods in prison. Maria also drank to suppress the damaging effects of domestic violence, which included numerous assaults by boyfriends, who often exchanged her sexual services for money to buy alcohol and drugs.

As a result of a lifetime of violence, as well as alcohol and drug dependence, at 38 years old Maria now has chronic liver problems, hepatitis C, stress, depression and most recently has been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

The Equinox Wandsworth team have tried many methods to engage with Maria, to help her break the cycle of dependency on drugs and alcohol, and to improve her mental and physical health. On one occasion, Equinox gave Maria a basic mobile phone to be able to keep in contact and have daily conversations. Maria sold the phone to pay for alcohol, however. At other times, the team offered to meet Maria in local cafes or to escort her to GP appointments or court appearances but Maria’s attendance was unpredictable.

With persistence, however, there has been a huge change for the better in Maria since April 2014. After 11 meetings, all of which Maria has kept, the Equinox Wandsworth team have noticed that Maria is now much more determined to get sustained help to move on with the rest of her life.

Although still early days, the Equinox Wandsworth team have been successful in getting Maria to re-engage with all local health services, especially those provided at St. Johns and via the services of IDAS. Arrangements have been made for Maria to be detoxed from substances, after which she will be able to go to a rehabilitation centre. Maria is also now linked to the women’s high support services in Wandsworth and is able to attend all local day centres. She is on the Wandsworth vulnerable people’s list which is reviewed every month. Most importantly for Maria, through the work that is being carried out with the Equinox team, she has succeeded in separating from some of her more violent boyfriends, a vital step for Maria to put her own security needs first.

Click for more information about Equinox Wandsworth, including how to access the service.


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