Breaking six years of social isolation

A complicated mixture of mental health issues and lack of understanding of mainstream social services has left two Chinese brothers in their 60s socially isolated and neglected for over six years.

The case came to light when City West Homes, one of Westminster's largest housing associations, got in touch with Chinese Welfare Trust in July 2018 requesting help with communication with two of their Chinese residents (hereafter referred to as the L brothers).

One of the L brothers had not left the flat for six years until City West Homes carried out a gas safety check at their residence, and found that they were not registered tenants. Their mother, who was the legal tenant, passed away two years before this and had been supporting her sons who have issues with mental health. When they were 'discovered' by City West Homes, the L brothers had not had any contact with health professionals or any meaningful social interaction with the outside world for several years.

Our outreach worker, together with a volunteer, successfully helped City West Homes understand the far-from-ideal health and housing situations the L brothers were in.

As a result of our intervention the L brothers moved to a new home as legal tenants of City West Homes in September, two months after their case had come to our attention. They now also have access to benefits and a GP, as well as receiving support from their local community mental health team. 

Working with other Chinese community organisations, we introduced and encouraged the L brothers to participate in luncheon and social clubs run by these centres. They are now slowly getting used to a more normal life.

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