Our day to day work
When case studies are described, either the cases have been summarised or the names of clients have been changed as well as other details regarding actual client stories so as to protect their identities. Any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental.
Home visit: Ann, Coventry
I visited Ann at her home in the suburbs of Coventry on 18th June. Ann came to England in 1963 and worked in the ‘care’ sector all of her working life. Since retirement Ann has worked in a voluntary capacity for Age Concern and on the reception desk of their free will writing service. Ann’s small flat is located on the top floor of a house that is owned by a Housing Association.
Ann has good friends but no family in England and is keen to return to Ireland while she is still young enough to be active and involved with the local community.
Ann said she has no health concerns, “I haven’t seen a doctor in years” and cycles and walks everywhere.
Born in Laois, Ann’s family moved to Kildare where most of them still live. She would be interested in considering anything that comes up in either county. Ann receives the British State pension and a small private pension from the Council. She also receives help with the rent and council tax because the British State pension has not kept up with rising prices.
Ann said she is anxious to move back with the support of Safe Home as ‘doing so alone would be daunting’.
Outreach & Advocacy Officer
Home visit: Michael, Liverpool
I met Michael at his home in Liverpool at 10.30am on Saturday 11th July. He has lived at his current address for 13 years, a one bedroom first floor apartment. I noted from his Safe Home Application Form that he had not been home for 30 years until he travelled over for a trip quite recently.
Michael told me that he never felt lonely for Ireland when he was working but since he retired he just looks at the walls and wishes he could be at home. He said he has no family in England and his brothers and sisters are very keen to have him home. He said that despite his not having travelled home they were a close family and had kept in touch through letters and phone calls. Sometimes a family member would be over visiting him
Having seen a notice in the Safe Home newsletter about the possibility of being required to get police clearance carried out, Michael decided he would go ahead and start the application process.
Michael was keen to stress that he is absolutely certain that moving home it the right step for him and that he has discussed the possibility at length with his siblings. He knows it will be hard to acclimatise but it is the right decision and it is what he wants.
Michael does his own shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. He has no support and needs none and considers himself to be very lucky in that he has no health concerns. Michael worked all the time since arriving in England so has the full British State pension and some savings.
Michael insisted in driving me to my next appointment in the local Irish Centre, waiting for me and then driving to the following address. He said he had time on his hands and liked to help when he could. I asked if he had any involvement with the local Irish social club and he said that he didn’t. His home is a good distance away from the centre and, when he was socialising with friends, they tended to out locally. As a driver who doesn’t take a drink Michael felt the Irish club offered little that would interest him.
Michael was born in Co. Donegal and said he would be keen to consider any housing options that might become available there.
Outreach & Advocacy Officer
Home visit: Liam, London
Liam lives in a very busy residential road in South London and his room is located is three terraced houses which have been combined into one. The property accommodates 42 residents who all require some level of assisted living and have some level of mental health or learning difficulties. Liam has lived there since he suffered a stroke thirteen years ago. When I arrived I was shown to Liam’s room by a member of staff.
As the original three houses were built on a sloping street there are steps between each former house. To reach Liam’s room we had to climb two very steep steps which did not have a hand rail. This led us to a communal room where a number of the residents were watching TV, we had then to pass through a door which the staff member unlocked to take us into the next hallway. Liam’s room is located to the back of this hallway on the ground floor. The whole area appeared quite dark with little natural light, the decor very outdated.
Liam was watching a rugby match when I arrived, Ireland were playing against France. His room was small with a single bed, a sink, a bedside locker, bookshelves, chest of drawers upon which sits a television. There was just about enough room to move with a Zimmer frame between the bed and the chest of drawers. Liam told me that he shares a bathroom with the other residents on the same floor.
Liam is a slightly built man who appears older than his 61 years. He told me that he was the oldest of four children, both his parents are deceased and his only surviving brother lives in Kerry. Liam’s other brother died in a farming accident when he was young and his sister also passed away a couple of years ago. He said that the last time he was home was for his brother’s funeral in early 1970’s. Liam worked on building sites for years, his last job before becoming ill was as a roofer. One of the first things he said to me when I arrived was that he wanted to return to Cork and try to get work as a roofer. He went on to say that although he needs to use a Zimmer frame that once someone is working on a roof there isn’t much walking so he thinks he could manage. We went on to talk about the employment situation in Ireland.
Liam told me that until he became sick he had lived around Kilburn and was not familiar with south east London at all. His friends were based in Kilburn but he is not sure if many of them are left now. I asked him if he had a choice to return to Kilburn or to return to Ireland which would he choose, he thought about this for a while and answered “there used to be a nursing home in Quex Road which was run by nuns, I wonder if it is still there?”.
I asked Liam if he felt he could manage in independent accommodation, he said that he needed someone to cook and shop for him and to help him with some personal care needs and cleaning. I asked him how he would manage financially on his income if he moved home. He told me that he did not know how much he gets as he does not manage his own money saying it is managed by the staff but he was quick to point out that they get him anything that he asks for. He said he was happy where he is living and had made some friends there but that he wanted to go home at the same time.
I spoke to him about the difficulty of securing accommodation in Cork that would provide the level of day to day supports that he needs. .
I asked him if he went out at all and he mentioned how busy the streets outside the house were. He said that he doesn’t go out except to the garden at the back sometimes to smoke.
I enquired if he found it difficult to get around the building, due to the steps, he said that he was used to them. He told me that he can use another route to the dining room and offices which had only had one step.
When I was leaving Liam accompanied me out on the route he normally used. I noticed that he walked quite slowly. On the way there is a fire door and one step leading to the dining area. I held the door for him and observed how he managed, he lifted the Zimmer frame down first then leaned on it with one hand while holding the door jamb with the other and then stepping down.
On leaving, while signing out, I spoke briefly to one of the support workers who said that he finds Liam to be a pleasant man but remarked that he can sometimes become agitated if one of the other residents annoys him.
Liam was referred to us by an Irish Centre in South London.
Outreach & Advocacy Officer
“Don’t call me on a Wednesday”
Michael contacted Safe Home to explore whether the option of returning to live in Ireland was the right move for him as the council property in Manchester where he has lived for nearly 30 years is going to be demolished. Michael was informed he would be re-located to another part of the city but is very nervous about the proposed move due to the high level of reported muggings in that area.
Michael was born in Dublin in 1936. In the summer of 1955, he left for England with his brother, James. After working around various parts of England, Michael eventually settled in Manchester where he has lived now for the past 32 years. He spent some time in the Irish Army in his youth and recounted positive tales of the time he was stationed in Africa.
Michael never married but he lived happily with his partner, Lucy, for almost 40 years. Lucy had been married previously and was not officially separated. Michael said that Lucy background caused a rift between him and his sisters back in Dublin, “but she was a queen to me” and he told me that Lucy sadly passed away in early 2014. Lucy and Michael did not have family of their own.
Michael told me his brother James, who now lives in Yorkshire is in very poor health and he doesn’t see much of him now. Michael said that he feels very lonely and isolated since Lucy’s death. “ I go down to Sainsburys just to have a chat with the staff there – they’re all very nice but they don’t want to be doing with an aul fella like me”.
Michael currently has no support systems in place in Manchester but has siblings in Meath and Offaly who would love him to come home. On enquiring about the possibility of setting up befriending or day care support services for him in Manchester while he explores what is right for him, Phillip’s response was:
“Don’t call me on a Wednesday. I go out every Wednesday before lunchtime. I ring a taxi to come and pick me up and I go down to the cemetery to Lucy. You see she died at about one o’clock on a Wednesday and I like to go down to be with her.”
Michael wants to be buried back home in Dublin and tells how he has “already made enquires with a local undertaker about bringing Lucy home with me when the time comes”.
Michael has since been in touch with the Irish Community Care in Cheetham Hill, Manchester and a Safe Home Outreach Officer is scheduled to visit him at his home over the coming months.
Outreach & Advocacy Officer