|8am Low Mass (of Requiem) / In the Salvation Army kitchen|
Chatted with a chap today, post Mass, availing himself of the hospitality of the Salvation Army's "Homeless Drop-in". Whilst pouring him tea (I was on the "tea/coffee" counter) I asked if he was enjoying the weather (a gloriously sunny morning, hot in the sun even by 9am) he mentioned, as a kinda throw away comment, that he had to make an important decision today and the weather was the last thing on his mind. Despite that, I got the impression he wanted to talk so I pressed him gently by expressing interest - a slight lilt in my voice and a raised eyebrow - he muttered something about "jacking it all in"... I was intrigued (concerned), so I asked him about it. He said he had to go to Court this afternoon to decide whether to go to prison or a hostel and drug rehab'. He expressed disappointment with the drug rehab' system having been through it, still in it, and still not off drugs. I opined that there are lots of services these days through the Prison Service for drug rehab' and for ex-prisoners. He looked thoughtful and went to a table.
A while later, spotting him in the carpark presumably for a cigarette, I called my colleague, M over (who took the photos at Mass today) and asked him to stand-in for me for a few moments. I went out and introduced myself properly to B who seemed pleased in the curiosity I expressed about his dilemma. He just wanted someone to listen. Basically, he'd been on Methadone and living in a hostel in the hope of overcoming his drug addiction. For some reason (I didn't ask) he was to be in Court today to make a choice about his sentencing for some misdemeanour, whether to carry on at the hostel or go to prison...
I didn't press him as to the charges, he was there to be received charitably, not to be judged and so we discussed the nature of the options open to him. I asked him what he thought the options were... in his own words, he said he'd come to the conclusion that prison was probably the better option for a proper detox to get "clean". I opined that a daily regime, square meals, medical assistance and access to courses, the internet etc and post-prison assistance (like NACRO) had obvious advantages... "So what's the alternative?" I asked him. Staying in the hostel with other Methadone/drug users and feeling unable to break free from it all, with a support group that hadn't yet proved useful to him, was his reply. Carefully and gently I pointed out that prison, though not normally a prefered option for most voluntarily, seemed to offer definite advantages... he seemed cheerfully to agree, even stating he'd been in before and didn't think it was all that bad (again, I didn't press).
He didn't stay for lunch, his Court appointment was at 2pm. I don't know what happened, but I will certainly pray for him and hope you will too? I know there are many arguments about prison overcrowding etc but it seemed to me, and it appeared to seem to him, that prison was perhaps the better option. He expressed a definite frustration with himself and a clear desire to change his life.