2013, beautiful young Eastern European girl hits the streets (lived in England since 2005), 19 years old, fit, healthy & together, she cycles down to the ‘beat’ with her ‘partner’ (20yrs older than her). He is a long term heroin addict, she has used crack & smoked heroin for a while. All the other women on the street were/are jealous of this new competition, all the punters flock to her. She mostly lives with her mother & her ‘partner’ lives there too on occasion. There is definitely something between them, as bad as it sounds they care about each other even though that care is damaging to her well-being.
Accesses our outreach, begins coming into the office, just a child really, lonely, upset that her Mum loves her brothers more than she does this daughter. We have lots of conversations like this, doesn’t matter how pretty etc. on the outside she is, on the inside she has no self-esteem. Needs constant attention when she arrives, we usually make a sandwich & talk about her Mum, I provide cards for her to write to Mum. As she is spending less & less time at home these cards are to let her mum know that she loves her & to let her know she is safe.
6 months, 8 months pass & she is now injecting heroin or rather her ‘partner’ is injecting her (she is scared of doing it wrong but basically doesn’t know how to do it). Why learn when he does it so well, another way of keeping her under control, dependent on him sorting out her ‘fix’.
We start seeing her out more often, the bike has gone! And she is beginning to show signs of regular drug use, scabs where she has re-injected on sights that haven’t had time to heal. We also see less of the ‘partner’, she states they’re not together anymore; so who is injecting her? Or has she learnt this skill.
A year has now passed, she is out more & more, weight is dropping of her & her clothes are dirty. We have a clothes swap or rather women can come here have a wash & change their clothes, usually dumping the ones they are wearing. We still talk about her mum, though her brother is now always seen with her out on the ‘beat’. He is also on drugs & waits outside with a drink & sandwich we provide while she has some 121 time in the office. We discuss her health, her drug use, provide sexual health screening & more. She leaves of her own accord & we see her again & again on the ‘beat’. As her looks fade, she begins to look gaunt, the more affluent punters she used to attract have gone, now she is like the majority of other women drug users involved in street prostitution, she can’t pick & choose now, just has to make do!
Really looks ill now, its early 2015 & cold, she is still out there all the time, a wisp of her previous self. Sometimes she can’t remember who we are, has no time for anything but drugs, caught robbing ‘punters’ at cash machines but doesn’t get sent down, is often seen begging for a pound for food. Though now she finds it very difficult to eat & she is so thin. Her brother is always with her, though in better condition, & yes she still pops home to see her mum now & again, there is an older lonely man on the streets who runs the women about so they can score etc. He also runs her home to see her mum! Yes there will be a cost but we don’t go there.
She really is ill now, can hardly stand up, but can be found crouched in a corner, still trying to score.
29th August, she has a cardiac arrest but people don’t realise this, she has another & is rushed to the emergency department of the NGH. Put on life support though she is still able to breathe by herself. Begins fitting, her brains way of shutting down. I support her mother (English not her first language) she knows about me from her daughter, I sit with her for 3 days in the hospital, speaking to her daughter, holding her hand, stroking her hair. Her mother is devastated, can’t believe how ill her daughter is, the head consultant comes to tell us she will be given another 24 hrs just to run some final tests, then that’s it. The next day the consultant says all tests are done, there is no hope!
September 4th 2015 Northern General Hospital, she dies………………..
UPDATE (28.10.15) – We are still trying to sort out a burial, as the family are catholic they don’t want a cremation, we have the service sorted but you have to pay for the coffin etc. first before you can apply for a ‘paupers’ grant as they can’t afford a funeral
15th Dec 2015
Funeral finally takes place at City Road crematorium. To keep costs down myself, an exit client, a member of our management committee & a friend carry the coffin to where she will be buried (this saves money as pall bearers cost money). The service is taken by Karen Small (St Marys Church, Sheffield) at no cost. Chocolate Box (befriending group) provide the flowers. A very small funeral takes place at the graveside with mother & sons plus a few workers involved with the family & a couple of friends.