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At the age of 16 I found myself homeless after leaving my family home. At the time I was very naïve and didn’t really have a good sense of the world or the situations I was getting myself into. After a few months of sofa surfing at various friends’ houses I found myself in a relationship with a man who was a lot older than me, this man was a class A drug user.
At the time I found this exciting, the whole life style seemed like a bit of an adventure and did not see where this was going to lead. Before long I found myself with nowhere to stay and was staying in a male hostel as it was not staffed, it was not long before we had to leave and found ourselves in the same position, this is when I started sleeping on the street.
We stayed in several places at the time I thought it was all a bit of a joke I did not really see the severity of things, I put myself in very vulnerable situations. This is when I began to take substances, I took it because I wanted to fit in with the other lot, after time this just become a way of life I needed this to cope and was physically dependant.
The adventure had took a turn for the worst and reality set in, the only way I was able to cope was to get that off my head I wasn’t able to function and it stopped me from thinking about the situation I found myself in. My criminality began to escalate and I found myself getting in a lot of trouble with the police and was given every community order and drug requirement order possible but this still didn’t seem to help my situation.
I felt myself giving up, I felt hopeless. I was accessing a service in Stockport called The Wellspring, this became my life line it was somewhere safe for me to go and have a meal, get a shower and clean clothes but most of all there was people there who genuinely cared about me and my welfare, people took the time to sit down with me and find out what was going on with me and how they was able to help.
I was supported to make a claim for hardship allowance as I had no form of income and the job centre at first was refusing to give me any form of money due to my age but when I brought this up with The Wellspring they contacted them on my behalf and then started to receive benefits. I had the same sort of problem with housing, I was informed that there was nowhere for anyone my age to be accomerdated due to the level of risk, I was advised to contact social services because I should have been picked up on their radar, social care was no better, the only support I was offered from them was a scheme where was running called night stop, this meant you going and staying at different strangers homes every night of the week, I already felt lost, frighten and alone how would this have helped?
I was offered no ongoing support from them and they did nothing to check on my welfare. After I raised this with Jonathon I was placed the very next day in a hostel, I had been homeless for well over a year and found it really difficult to settle into temporary accommodation at first, I continued to live this way for some time at the age of 20 I got my first tenancy, not long after I fell pregnant with my son and this is where I started to really want change but I felt like it wasn’t possible, stopped using all class A substances and completed a detox before he was born but the day after I had given birth to this beautiful boy I started to use again and my using had got worse than it had ever been.
I hit so many rock bottoms it was untrue, the goals posts had moved and the worst part about is that I wasn’t blinded to all this anymore I was aware of the pain I causing to others and the effect that this was starting to have on my son, during this time I was engaging with another service called Mosaic who was doing everything possible to try and help had been engaging with every recovery group possible to try and stop my using but nothing was successful, after several prison sentences I was encouraged by my drug worker to do something different, this is where my journey to recovery began I was placed in a residential rehab centre where I was able to take a good honest look at myself and the harms that I had caused to others. By going through this process it has shown me a new way of life where I am now able to be a mother, daughter, sister and be able to give back to others and show them that there Is a way out.
Since working at The Wellspring I feel that my confidence and self-esteem has grown by helping others on their journey of recovery. People often ask if I find this job difficult, at times it can be. However this is only due to barriers that are put in place by other services. I find this job highly rewarding, it has been a pleasure to watch so many people even start to think about becoming drug free let alone the people who have started to action this. I think that by having my own personal experiences with substance abuse and homelessness it helps the service users relate to me. I have worked with a wide variety of people in the past year and the real privilege for me is working with the hard to reach, people that would not engage with services due to one reason or another and to help break down these barriers and see these people blossom has been amazing and very rewarding. Some of these people have made small steps into recovery such as attending groups or getting on a maintenance prescription to stop illicit drug use, over the past 12 month I have also had the privilege of supporting four people into residential rehab, we now also have recovery focused services going on in The Wellspring such as a drop in from the local Community Drug and Alcohol Team. I have also set two drop in groups up in the building that have had a very good response from the service users. I look forward to working at The Wellspring for many years to come.
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