John Yue was once a homeless that slept on street and in 24-hour restaurants. After the death of his family, the grief-stricken John became an alcoholic. His health quickly deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital frequently. Two years ago, John joined The Army’s ‘Outcomes Star’ Programme which helped him to recover from alcoholism and set new life goals without wasting away his life any more. Despite thinking himself not good at socialising, John decided to become a volunteer and rebuild a healthy social life.
Emptiness of the homeless days
Alcohol and friends became the main parts of John’s life. Every week he went drinking with friends, and he found himself had gradually spent all his savings. Later, he lost even a shelter and started sleeping in 24-hour fast food restaurants. ‘It is difficult to sleep in restaurants. You have to leave once there are customers. You can only move to parks but it can be scorching hot out there; also there are ants that can wake you up.’ During those days, he felt like a soulless zombie living in a void. Since he was homeless and was not able to eat regularly, he became weak and thin.
From street sleeper to volunteer
A friend of his introduced John the social welfare organization services, and after a few referrals he moved in to The Salvation Army’s Yee On Hostel and joined the ‘Outcomes Star’ Programme. Social worker of the Project helped him to set goals, and encourage him to achieve them step by step. With a strong ego, at first John refused the help from others. However, thanks to caring social workers and nurses, John finally lowered the guard. He set two clear goals – ‘social networking and interpersonal relationship’ and ‘health and well-being’, which keep him focused and motivated. He listened to the advice of nurses and exercised persistently, at the same time stayed away from alcohol.
‘My weight once dropped to 150 pounds from 240 pounds, and became so weak that I had to use an umbrella as a cane. Nurses taught me breathing techniques and exercise. In the past, I would go drinking once I was not in good mood, but now I don’t even yearn for alcohol that much!’
John put down his ego and open up himself. He joins all kinds of social and volunteering activities of the Hostel, makes friends and has a more regular lifestyle. He is now serving the community as a longterm volunteer.
‘Outcomes Star’ motivating street-sleepers to make better changes
In 2016, The Army’s ‘Outcomes Star’ Programme introduced services for street-sleepers, helping them restart their lives from 10 aspects, including motivation and responsibility taking, self-care and life skills, money and self-management, social networking and interpersonal relationship, drug addiction and alcoholism, health and well-being, emotional and mental health, time management, rental and housing and delinquent behaviours. Social workers will estimate which aspects are the most important for the homeless cases and help them to set goals. Achieving those goals can increase their motivation and confidence in making positive changes in those aspects.