Each service user at the Refuge has access to the “crisis fund”. It’s up to the discretion of the project worker and the manager to define if the service user is facing a crisis.
One of the few astute and sensible project workers, Alice, has informed me that Arthur, one of the few heroin addicts that use our service, was recently taken out and bought a microwave for his newly acquired social housing flat he had obtained from the state. He asked to be able to keep the receipt in case there was anything wrong with it and he had to return it. I reckon that Arthur returned that microwave and the only thing that would have been wrong with it would be that it didn’t come with a free bag of smack. How did the nice Christian ladies not see through this very obvious manipulation?
Now, I would hate to be judgmental and stereotype those in the smack community as conniving, shrewd and manipulative when it comes to feeding their addiction, but I am going to do so, because to put it plainly, it’s the truth.
In fact, the junkie that would simply manipulate you or con you is a cut above those that would physically separate you from your worldly possessions with a dagger or blunt instrument. I’d rather be duped than struck about the head with a crowbar or any other class of weapon.
After hearing of Arthur’s acquiring of a microwave, I couldn’t help but put myself in the mind of a heroin addict. I mused upon the possible crises that could compose the daily life of an urban junkie. Now, put yourself in the mind of a smack- head. Which of these two scenarios is more likely to be a crisis in your daily existence? Choose (a) or (b):
(a) “Bugger, I don’t have a microwave to heat up that Marks and Spencer gourmet vegetarian moussaka I got at the refuge today.”
(b) “Oh my God, the withdrawals have kicked in and I am sitting here alone in my flat, craving, sweating, shaking, shivering and shitting in my pants. God forgive me, but I would mug my own granny for a hit right now. If only there was some other way I could get the money…A ha! I could always apply to the crisis fund.”
Anyone who knows anything about heroin addiction should know that it is very unlikely that (a) would ever be a crisis for an opiate addict of limited income.
Mealtime for the opiate classes is a rather haphazard and at times infrequent occurrence, so issues such as food temperature and the means by which you heat your meal tend not to be on your list of priorities.
When most people hear the word crisis it evokes images of a dramatic nature. Perhaps a stock market crash, a run on a bank, a harvest failing in an impoverished country leaving millions facing crisis, but never in a million years would any reasonable person judge a heroin addict’s lack of a microwave oven a crisis. Then again reasonable people rarely tend to work at the Refuge.
After this incident, Alice informed me that lots of other service users started to apply to the crisis fund for microwaves. Tony, our resident pot dealer and not shy of a few quid, got one on the grounds that he didn’t know how to cook or use a conventional cooker despite having one in his council flat. As Alice put it, “Well why didn’t we teach him how to use his cooker and to cook a few basic things instead of buying him a bloody microwave, I thought we were supposed to be empowering them?”
Is it any wonder so many people feel they are owed a living when you have charities and the government dishing out luxuries. Why work when you can blag it or claim it?