Cancer survivor Jamie gets fresh start with forfutures

Jamie, aged 60 from Ellesmere Port, was referred by Westminster Drugs Project for complex needs support with forfutures in May 2020. At the time he was a heavy drinker and smoking 40 to 60 cigarettes a day. Drinking and smoking heavily for most of his life has taken its toll on his health.

The complex needs service at forfutures provides individual support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by working with partners to provide them with safe housing and opportunities to build a brighter future.

Before arriving in Chester, Jamie had left his home in Birkenhead due to his relationship with his ex-partner having broken down.

With no relatives to stay with, Jamie became homeless and was left feeling isolated and alone and was living in a bedsit. Although he had been given somewhere to live, with mounting health problems that included asthma, diverticulitis, high blood pressure and diabetes, made it unsuitable for Jamie to live there.

Forfutures arranged support for Jamie, which included requesting his priority on the council’s housing waiting list due to his poor health and exploring possibilities for him to find a new home.

It was at this point that Jamie was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Forfutures prioritised finding a ground-floor home for him, as he was due for major surgery to remove part or all of his right lung to stop the cancer from spreading.

The additional risk of catching COVID-19 in his shared bedsit increased the urgency, and forfutures successfully secured him a bungalow in a quiet area of Chester.

Jamie moved into a property this Spring, just a fortnight before he had the operation on his right lung – where three-quarters of it was removed.

He has been recovering well since surgery, and after initially having support from the district nurses, he now attends regular follow-up appointments.

Since then, Jamie has new friends and neighbours in his new community, they support each other and he is more comfortable and happier than he has been in a long-time.

Before his operation, he had essential furniture, white goods and carpets delivered through the local Help in Emergencies for Local People scheme (HELP), and forfutures had also managed to help get back a few prized possessions from his former home, including a treasured photograph of his mum.

Jamie recently bought a mobility scooter which has increased his independence.

Now, Jamie no longer requires help from Westminster Drug Project and has completed a programme to lower his alcohol intake and is also getting support to cut back his smoking.

His forfutures Complex Needs and Support Coordinator was with him every step of the way, attending hospital appointments with him and supporting him through his surgery.

Jamie said: “My stress levels have gone right down now my health is back on track and I have somewhere comfortable to live.

“Forfutures have helped me turn my life around and were there for me when things were really tough and I was really worried about my cancer and the surgery.

“Things are looking more positive for me now and I’m feeling better about the future than I have for a long time.”