Ben’s Story

May 8th, 2024
Posted in News

Watching the wonderful Wellspring Runners at the Great Manchester Run is such an exciting part of our fundraising calendar. It combines so many of the aspects that we recognise as important for the work we do here.

There is something incredibly inspiring about witnessing our supporters go through the tough weeks of training and hard miles on the day to arrive at the end refreshed but exhausted, elated and humbled. The fact that they are doing it for the reasons they do makes it even more special. 

Our Wellspring Runners often have very personal stories that drive them to lace up their trainers and tell the world about the work we do while raising essential funds for us.

Ben will be running for us on the 26th of May. 

This is his story…

Ben has lived experience of the cycles of substance and alcohol addiction that can ultimately lead to homelessness and isolation. For around 20 years, this was part of a journey that took Ben away from family and friends to reach a critical point where he realised that he needed the help of others to make the changes that would save his life.

So much has been written and spoken about how homelessness can often be viewed as the choice of a person with the resources and agency to do something to avoid it. Ben knows that the reality is always much different. Surviving any circumstance or situation requires an understanding of what it means to be in it, regardless of your capability to affect change on your own, so as Ben says:

“I certainly didn’t choose it, but I accepted it”.   

Invisible Dangers

For Ben, accepting this way of life meant knowing that many of the difficulties connected to life on the streets were left unseen to the people in the towns and cities where he stayed. Sleeping in doorways was only ever a small part of the story, with the constant threat of physical attack and harm compounding the dangers of the loneliest and longest evenings. This drove Ben to look for alternative shelters through makeshift dens in the woods when it was dry, and staying in skips through the night when the weather was bad. Tragedy was only narrowly avoided one evening when he realised that the skip that he had planned to stay in the previous evening had been the subject of an arson attack in the early hours.

Hope Comes from Human Connections

Hope came for Ben initially through talking with an old friend that had experienced similar circumstances and was now six years sober. This friend gave Ben the offer of a temporary place to stay and a way to reconnect with the right people and services to begin a long road to recovery, alongside the insights and experience to help him. Recalling this moment is clearly an emotional memory for Ben, with the next steps in his life determining a path of recovery through the work of rehabilitation. There is a brutal honesty to his recollection of this time that involves Ben even attempting to take his own life before deciding to accept help and move towards some big changes:

“I remember crying on the coach journey to stay with him, it was mix of joy, relief and hope. I was thinking everything would be ok”

Relief to Rehabilitation

The hard work involved in rehab paid huge dividends for Ben. So much so that he now works helping others with substance rehab and recovery in Stockport. He also learnt first-hand during this time how important it is to sustain a home once you are off the streets and exactly how we support people in this way. The Wellspring was there for Ben with food parcels, clothing and regular contact from people that knew the process he was going through.

Working Towards Happiness

Ben regularly volunteers at The Wellspring now, using all of his life experience to offer that same hope to those facing similar challenges to the ones he did. He knows what is required to make positive life changes and can make the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles appear simple and clear with regular and friendly advice:

It’s all about those human connections. Keep connecting with others. Keep up with the appointments, keep going!”

One of the most inspiring parts of this story is how Ben reflects on the goal he is now working towards. 

Happiness is now his destination

After successfully moving through periods of isolation, addiction, homelessness and all the trauma that brings, he is well on his way to getting there too. Reconnecting with his family for a recent holiday is perhaps the best example of how his life has changed and how the people he loves are once again a part of it.

Support Ben To Support The Wellspring

Ben is now concentrating on raising all he can in the Half Marathon at Great Manchester Run on the May the 26th. He has done the hard work, put in the hours of training and is ready to keep on working towards race day!

His commitment to making sure that his experience helps others is fantastic to see. If you want to help him raise his target for the day, then just click the link below and give anything that you can.

Click Here to go to Ben’s Just Giving Page

Good luck, Ben!

We’ll all be roaring you on towards the finish line!