Friday, 22 August 2008
Hi I’m Precious! I am the eldest of 6 children and because I was poorly when I was born my mother decided to name me Precious. Trust me this was a hard name to grow into. Not only because of the kids at school but also the high expectations my parents placed on me to succeed. I was the first born, the one to lead by example and support my younger brothers and sisters.
I came from a caring, loving family. We went to church and visited all the aunts and uncles and as kids we were all tight between us, brothers, sisters and cousins. Our home had an open door policy, everyone welcome with a pot of food on the stove for one and all.
I grew tall and strong. Very handsome and caring. Good education, loved my sports, good singer and even dabbled with a bit of modeling in my early twenties. Yes I was the bomb! The ‘G’. Hackney boy done good.
Went out a lot hanging with all the hip crowd in Notting Hill and Portobello, mixing with the IT crowd you could say…. What went wrong? When did it all change? It has taken me 20 years to be able to answer the questions and come to terms with all the bad I have done. Not precious at all….. Shame.!
Dropped out of college, disrespected my family, stole money and stuff from everyone around me to keep me in the lifestyle I believed society owed me. 15 years in and out of jail, heroin, crack and alcohol dependent, violent, hurting people, lost my family and friends. But the worst of all was having 3 children to 2 women that I have no contact with because of everything I have done.
Now fast track things, I was released to a bail hostel in October 06, but went on the run as the hostel was full of idiots on drugs and stuff. So one day after meeting with my Probation Officer, I decided to pick up my stuff leave it with a mate and go underground.
Bad choice!!! Hung out at Finsbury Park and hooked up with a girl called Bev who has just left Holloway. She had a gaff, and invited me to stay. In the beginning it was cool, chilling out with her and her mates, smoking spliff and drinking a few cans no bother. Got my benefits,….. threw her a few quid and,... life was sweet. Or so I thought!!
Quickly I started building up debts to her and she wanted more. No sex, don’t get me wrong she is a fit girl but she is a lesbian. Anyhow, from spiffs I found myself smoking some heroin and then onto the crack. The debt grew and she had some bad ass mates that hurt people. So I was given odd jobs to do to pay for my keep and what quickly became my habit.
Thieving, collecting, delivering and a little strong arming people who owed her money and I was out of control. One night while out at Finsbury Park station doing business, I saw her talking to 2 guys (Outreach Workers), she called me over and said that these guys could help me and that I should listen because I was out of control.
‘It is my gift to you’ .. I remember her saying.
I thought about how bad things had gone and how out of control I was so I decided with some persuasion from Bev to talk my stuff with these guys.
One guy called Aston and the other younger called Karris.
They assessed me and arranged to meet with me the next night. I had to think if going to detox might be the right way forward as I was using over £ 200 per day in crack and heroin plus the rest. I had been detoxed 3 times earlier in my life while in prison, but always using again once released.
They came back 2 nights later as we arranged. They bought me some dinner and started to discuss possible plans. I really wanted to go away. Detox and then to rehab for a long time. We looked at options and discussed ways forward and then decided on a care plan that suited me and we all agreed. (sort of, you see I never told them that I skipped the bail hostel and that there is a warrant out for my arrest).
These guys do work quick. Within a week I was attending a local drug service, receiving counselling and being referred to housing. They never let me down. But I was guilty of not being honest. This ate away at me until one night I decided to come clean.
They spoke to their Manager Savvas, who managed to get the police to have a Doctor waiting with medication and for me to be able to give myself up. Well it took 4 attempts and being stabbed in the arm before I saw what lay ahead and one night they came with me to the police.
I was sent back to Pentonville and 4 weeks later moved to Lincoln Prison. I was to spend the rest of my sentence 5 years in this prison. I got so frightened and angry that I nearly closed down. Aston and Savvas kept their promise they took it in turns coming to the prison for visits and writing to me. All the time speaking to Hackney Care Managers and Probation as well as the prison about my treatment.
I was assessed and it was agreed for me to go to a rehab in Cornwall. I did my programme, attended groups and worked while in prison and 6 months later, I was released to Cornwall. Savvas came up and met me and brought me back to London. On our way to Cornwall he arranged for me to see my parents. I didn't want this but it worked out great and I am glad he brought them to the station.
I have completed all my treatment and I have also trained as a Physical Education Teacher. I am now living the dream. I have a flat on the beach, teach part-time at a local school and support others going through the pain that I went through.
I still come to London but only to visit the family, otherwise, the pace in London is too much for me to cope. I have written to the women I wronged in the past and have started building bridges back to seeing my children.
I am now 40 years old and have hope for my future and that of my children. Not only did Pilion help me but they helped my family too. I am so blessed to have met the guys and as always when I am in London I will go back to support the Pilion. I don’t know how else to say thank you.
I am Precious now ! Not only to myself, but to my parents, children and the community I live in. This has been the best buzz that I can remember. I love life now and don’t want to waste or miss a moment!
Do you think its addictive?
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
The ZONE is to be a new Centre for support, advice and advocacy for people who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless , or people who need advocacy support when dealing with Homeless Persons Units.
The Centre will run 6 days per week, offer a 'chilled' friendly environment where people can express their needs and receive the support they need.
The Hive is a training project assisting people who have been homeless or are returning to the community after being in prison and wish to gain skills in hospitality. We will offer training service, education support and work placements for the volunteers.
If you are interested in supporting us please call 020 7700-2498 for more information or send your donation to The Pilion Trust, 8 Clarendon Buildings, 25 Horsell Road, London N5 1XL
There are 5 TESTS that the Council must look at to sort what type of help you will be entitled to temporary housing and some priority on the housing register for a permanent home. Even if you don't meet all the tests, you may have the right to some help with housing.
- Are you homeless? This includes people who will become homeless within the next 28 days or are badly or unsafely housed as well as those who are on the streets (e.g. if you can't stay in your home because you are experiencing violence there).
- Are you Eligible? Does your immigration status allow you to be housed by public authority? Do you have recourse to public funds?
- Are you in priority needs? Some people are automatically in priority need - e.g. pregnant women, people with children, 16 & 17 year olds, 18-20 year olds who have been in care and people who have been made homeless by and emergency such as a flood. 'others will have to show that their problems make them 'vulnerable' - e.g. someone who has serious mental health problems, or someone who is elderly man be vulnerable.
- Are you intentionally homeless? If the council think it is your fault you are homeless, then they man only have to house you for a very short time while they help you find your own accommodation
- Local Connection. This is the LAST thing a Council should consider and not the first! If you don't have a local connection with the borough where you are applying and you have one with somewhere else, the Council man tell the borough where you have a connection to house you. But they can only do this AFTER they have investigated your case and made a decision about whether you pass the first 4 tests.
"Reason to believe" is not the same as proof or evidence. A recent case in the high court said that if a person goes to a Homeless Persons Unit to get help, this is enough in itself to give the Council reason to believe the person may be homeless.
- They can't help until they've done a home visit sometime in the future
- They can't help until you've actually been evicted by the bailiffs
- They won't help until you bring in a doctors report
- They won't help until you've gone through meditation(for example with your parents to see if they will change their mind about throwing you out)
- They won't help until you show a police report about the violence you've been suffering