I watched Mr Brand’s unique brand (s’cuse the pun) of delivery on the drug culture sweeping the nation. It was all very interesting. Sam, the young woman who bravely spoke on camera held my interest for longer than Mr Brand did and is still in my mind long after the programme finished. Sam was of particular interest to me, as SHE has her own Sam, (in fact we have a few Sam’s) but SHE’s first referral was Sam. More about our Sam later.
The documentary was correct in the way those with addictions live their lives. I have seen this first hand when I was homeless. Despite the state of my life at that time, a woman I met was addicted to cocaine & heroin. She was 56 years old. She was sofa surfing at another addict’s house and went ‘grafting’ (shoplifting) each day. Her rent was paid from the proceeds of her new “criminal’ career and the live-in landlord gave her a sofa and a top-up of the leccy meter. There was no heating or hot water. There was no money for the gas meter. Too much debt on it. They simply ignored this. Electricity served their needs. Four kettles of hot water would offer a shallow bath. Food would appear if enough left over after stolen foods were sold to various shops/pubs. Quite the little cartel. Shops masquerading as Spar shops fuel these cartels. I have seen it happen. Many give active users ‘shopping lists” Crime simply orbits many deprived areas. Mr Brand’s documentary did not reveal the true essence of the cartels fuelling the criminality orbiting areas. Despite his assurances of abstinence-based treatment programmes, lest we not forget there are many who have made millions from the green liquid dished out as a legal substitute to heroin users under a *treatmemt programme* I particularly despised Mr Brand’s description of the people in the property. He said what was found was a house of *poor* people. Dear oh dear. Still, he means well.
Mr Brand for all his clever writing & comedic capabilities, began banging on about making drug use a ‘health’ issue as opposed to a criminal activity. His ‘End the War on Drugs’ mantra gained him much support.
I felt for Sam in the documentary. She was clearer than Mr Brand himself in her delivery. She was quite clear. Each time she left prison, she had nowhere to live and ended up back where she felt safe.
SHE’S Sam used to lead a life similar to Sam in the documentary. Our Sam is on reduction programme. Her methadone script has been reduced and our Sam has the one piece of treasure she holds dear. Her front door key. She was emaciated, living in fear of her abusive partner and took to drugs to overcome her fear of being beaten time and time again. Our Sam is healthy, she has glossy locks and is the matriarch of the SHE community. Sam has a life, helps her poorly mother and looks forward to visits from her 18-year old son at her home. Our Sam looks fantastic and she knows we are there for support should she need us. Sam visits our office regularly and laughs as she tells us 2015 is going to be her year.
So, Mr Brand, your documentary was fascinating, but you missed the point. Simplicity at its finest. Homes are what your *poor people* need. Stable accommodation in which to begin a journey away from the drug war. When we take on monstrous battles and challenges, we often miss the simplistic remedies.
Ending the war on drugs? This is not a conventional war. It is guerilla warfare showing that the government can win a battle or two. It is well known that guerillas are rarely beaten.