Antonia and Roisin – our two Royal London Hospital-based SOS Caseworkers – have been exceptionally busy over the past few months. They help young people who have been admitted to the hospital’s Major Trauma Centre as victims of serious youth violence. The work involves offering intensive, kindly support to young patients, ensuring they are discharged to an environment where they are safe from the kind of risks that put them in hospital in the first place.
This involves helping people like 22 year old Peter, who sustained life threatening injuries after being stabbed several times in his stomach. Emergency surgery left him with a stoma bag and he was seriously unwell. He did not have family support and was facing homelessness on discharge from hospital. At a low ebb, Peter needed a lot of emotional support. Our team also gave Peter practical help, making an application to the local authority’s emergency housing team and submitting a claim for benefits on his behalf. This in itself was complex as Peter had no ID and was too unwell to get to the post office to sort out passport pictures.
When discharged, we found Peter temporary accommodation in an area away from his attack and started to recover well. He still needs a great deal of assistance but is now in permanent accommodation. He has recently started work in a gym and is looking to do an apprenticeship in fitness. He is relieved to be finally enjoying some normality in his young life.
The team also offer support to former patients. Reggie was referred by the Violence Reduction Nurse as there were grave concerns for his safety. He had been savagely attacked in 2015 and had required brain surgery to save his life. As a result, he’d had to re-learn to walk and talk. Two years on, Reggie was still extremely anxious – not working, without any income, carrying a weapon and using cannabis to cope with the trauma. Our team stepped in and helped Reggie make a claim for Employment Support Allowance. We then helped Reggie focus on his future by helping him identify and work towards his career aspirations. He was eager to help other young people and prevent them from progressing down the same path he had. We helped Reggie to secure a volunteer position working with young people and he is currently waiting for a start date. His long-term aim is to open his own youth club and support people in his local community. Given his own experiences, he knows just how hard it can be for them in today’s society.