Alleviating poverty, bringing hope

Claire’s was born in Luton during the 60’s, after her parents emigrated to England from Dublin. She experienced a difficult childhood and a number of other significant traumas which resulted in her using NOAH services from the 1990’s onwards.

In 2013, her partner was violently attacked and suffered severe head injuries which put him on life support. Claire became very angry and began drinking more heavily, as well as taking heroin again.

She was eventually admitted to the mental health ward at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. NOAH hosted a multi-agency meeting with a range of partner agencies including the GP, Police, Safeguarding, ASB, Housing and Drug and Alcohol team to see what support could be offered, including the provision of some respite accommodation.

Due to drinking heavily and refusing to access any help, Claire’s heating was turned off as the engineers had been unable to access her home to complete gas safety checks. Annette from NOAH negotiated with her to let them in so this could be restored.

The next week Claire’s was offered time in a hotel so maintenance could be carried out in her flat. She was abusive to hotel staff and smashed bottles of vodka in the reception.

In May 2014, she went to prison for several months due to assaults on emergency workers. On her release date NOAH staff went to help her get back to her home but she said that she wanted to smoke crack and sleep out that night.

In the September of the same year, NOAH staff helped Claire’s managed to get her benefits reinstated so that her rent would be paid and so she had money for food, it was at this time when her partner sadly passed away.

During the winter, Claire’s came to the NOAH welfare center for lunch. She was upset, angry and intoxicated. She was reminded that lunch service was closing in 5 minutes and became threatening to staff.

The following week she got into an altercation with another client and threw a cup of hot coffee in their face. The police arrived to remove her and she was spitting at them and swearing, she then received a 2 week exclusion from the NOAH welfare center due to the risks to staff and clients being too high.

In January 2015, NOAH staff attended her court hearing to support her, she came and had a good conversation with the NOAH management and re-engaged with help.

In summer of 2016, Claire was taken to court again and this time the judge offered her the chance of rehabilitation or prison, she decided to go to a rehabilitation centre.

From this point onwards NOAH staff received fleeting information from the Luton drug and alcohol team to let us know that Claire was doing well and had stayed in rehabilitation and was engaged with the treatment.

We didn’t hear from her until 2021 when she got in touch to ask to come and visit. She came in the NOAH Welfare Centre and sat down in front of the NOAH staff team.

She told us that she had not taken any drugs or alcohol for 5 years. She had been on a painful journey of recovery.

She explained about the difficulty she had, had at home and the abuse she suffered as a child. We talked about what life had been like in Luton as an adult and the chaos and pain that she had lived through.

She had reflected on the devastation and damage that she had caused on other people’s lives, this had made her very sad to have been estranged from her own children for such a long time.

The challenge for her to recover had been hard, the temptation to always blame others and avoid responsibility had been tough. She explained that it was in moments such as her exclusion from NOAH for violence and abuse which forced her to confront reality and take big decisions.

She asked for forgiveness and explained that she was now at peace. It was an incredible meeting and one that changed the perspective and hope of all NOAH staff for supporting other clients in future who are currently leading long-term chaotic lifestyles.

In December 2021, on Boxing Day Claire and her friend came to Luton to volunteer and serve food in the NOAH kitchen to our clients.

She updated us that she was working as a Support Worker at the Rehabilitation Centre and had just been promoted to Team Leader, helping people on their own journeys of recovery.

Names have been changed and a stock image has been used for confidentiality.