Serious violence against young people can rob them of their futures. When Sonya, our caseworker Royal London Hospital Trauma Caseworker, first met 23 year old Anton he had been the innocent victim of a drive by shooting which had left him blinded. Although he had not been the intended target, he was friends with the person who was and this meant he was unable to return to his home area.
Prior to the shooting, Anton was pursuing a promising career in boxing. Alongside the physical pain and trauma of the incident and losing his sight, this meant being confined to a hospital bed was especially hard for him.
Sonya liaised with the hospital’s homelessness team to start the process of finding Anton suitable accommodation for when he was discharged. His emotional health was also starting to suffer due to his situation and loss of sight. It was decided that Anton needed to remain in hospital for his own safety until somewhere safe for him to live had been found.
It was proving to be a complicated case. Although the local authority in his area accepted the homelessness application, they were only able to offer temporary accommodation which was not suitable for Anton given his levels of vulnerability.
His emotional state was deteriorating further and the local authority had deemed him not priority. Sonya’s colleague Sanjeeva also started to support work on the case as it was becoming critical given the levels of complexity coupled with Anton’s situation.
A psychological review unsurprisingly revealed that Anton was suffering fro m depression. Furthermore, he was evidently frustrated and bored due to his lengthy stay in hospital. After a lot of research, Sanjeeva found a boxing coach who was happy to train Anton once a week in the local park. He also contacted the sensory impairment team and through this Anton embarked on an IT course and joined a blind chess group.
Anton now had a routine and activity every day which meant his mental state started to improve. We also arranged for him to receive some benefits he was entitled to so he could buy some basics during his stay in hospital.
Although his loss of sight was irreversible, his emotional state continued to improve and he would be on the ward exercise bike most days when Sanjeeva visited. However, the process of finding him and his family suitable accommodation through the local authority continued to be a huge challenge.
After 8 months of negotiations with them and other housing providers, a housing association made an offer well away from old area. The meant Anton could finally be discharged from hospital and start to rebuild his life with our continuing support.
Despite life-changing injuries, Anton’s story proves what can be overcome with immense personal courage and the right support. Although he has lost his sight, his life has been saved and he has a great deal of potential for the future.