Reflecting on "kindness to strangers” with Equinox Brighton

Posted by on 30 May 2012 | 0 Comments

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As part of Mental Health Awareness week in May 2012, the Mental Health Foundation have been encouraging acts of kindess to friends or strangers.

“Doing good things for others,” the Mental Health Foundation say, “can reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health. It feels good to give and doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or even cost you money.”

A visit to Equinox Brighton in May brought this idea of kindness to strangers to mind. The Equinox team in Brighton provide street outreach for people with alcohol problems and a shared house for men who are homeless with long term alcohol misuse.

Equinox service users coined the term ‘forgotten people’ for themselves, which Equinox Area Manager, Jesse Wilde, reflects on here:

“The street population in Brighton – rough sleepers, street drinkers, sex workers – they are very much not forgotten, in so far as they are pilloried and looked down on, even feared by a lot of people," Jesse explains.

“I think as people, however, they are forgotten. They are seen as a problem, they are seen as threatening, which yes sometimes they can seem to others – but our job at Equinox Brighton in terms of advocating for our service users is to say to local people and businesses that we understand there are things we need to sort out, we explain the work we are doing with our service users. We try to show that this may be the first time in nearly 30 years of alcohol abuse that a person may be considering an alcohol detox or that a service user is now spending less time on the streets, for example.

“We always try to educate people that our service users have a back story, they have a history that people who walk past them in the street do not see. With street drinkers and people who are homeless, you are not dealing with a typical cross-section of society – these are people who from the outset have come from the most difficult of circumstances – poverty, addiction in the family, domestic violence, sexual abuse, the care system. I think it would be amazing if they had ended up in any other circumstances. These are people who typically have no support networks, family or otherwise – the evidence I see every day in Brighton tells me this.

“The staff at Equinox Brighton really take pride in working with these people – they are people who other organisations often won’t work with.”

Coming up in June, more stories about the work of the Equinox team in Brighton – visit us again at the Equinox website to find out more.

Images from Brighton (May 2012)

Equinox Brighton, seagull ready to fly

Equinox Brighton, seagull in flight

Equinox Brighton, view of beach and burnt pier

 

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