One pathway to recovery. Glen’s story – in his words
Central to this work has been the people we have worked with. The report touches on some of the incredible stories and experiences of some of the former and current drug and alcohol users. These personal stories resonate loudly and help to demonstrate the very individual journey’s people take on their road to and through recovery. Here, one of the individuals who has been with the project since the earliest days shares his story in more detail. This is his pathway to recovery.
Glen’s story. In his own words.
After a twenty year struggle with alcoholism and seven of those living on the streets of West Sussex I finally won my battle with booze and put the bottle down on 12th July 2009. I knew why I drank in such a chaotic way and felt that if I did not address this I would not live to see 40. I had been engaging with a homeless charity in Chichester for a number of years on and off and this was my first port of call. They (Stonepillow) offered me the chance to see their doctor and she decided that my best option was for her to arrange for me to detox at the local hospital, now, on reflection this would have been the easiest and perhaps the safest, but at the time I refused, most in part because I had “used” the NHS as a kind of respite from my addiction from time to time.
Stonepillow has a day centre and a night shelter in Chichester and these combined gave me a safe environment to endure the “DT’s” and in just a week they had secured me a placement in their supported housing project in Bognor Regis (Sands). After being in Sands for a few months I was beginning to get restless and lacking motivation, for sure I was going to loads of fellowship meetings and practicing the 12 Steps to the best of my ability but I needed something to focus on and keep me focused on the most important thing, my recovery.
At this time the residents of Sands were invited to the launch of a service user project being set up by Brian Morgan (Service User Co-ordinator, West Sussex DAAT). Initially I saw the launch as “a day out” but once there and had heard Brian’s vision for EXACT I wanted to find out more and get involved. At the launch there were guest speakers and one that stuck out in my mind was the project from the RSA, and when some researchers came into sands with some questionnaires for us to fill out, I was interested with not only the survey but with the way the questions were set (they were well thought out and put in a language I could understand) and when I found out about the research workshops that were being held locally I went along and met Rebecca Daddow and Steve Broome from the RSA and have been engaging with them ever since.
I started with EXACT when the local (Arun) group was set up in early 2010, and was a bit perplexed by it to start as drink was my poison and addiction services are predominantly centred on drug users. That just gave me the drive to research the sector to gain an understanding of it.
Since then EXACT has been going from strength to strength in Arun, one of the first things the group did was formally set up EXACT in Arun as a “Community Organisation” and once this was done went on to open a bank account of which I was a part of. Now to most opening a bank account isn’t all that big a deal, but to me it showed that people were prepared to put some trust in me, and that was massive for me.
I’m now currently at college studying for a community justice award which will help with gaining employment in the sector in the future and helping on a voluntary basis at the Drug & Alcohol Action Team with EXACT on a county wide basis.
I’m sure that in the past service user groups have just been seen as an annoyance, always complaining about services they don’t understand; however, EXACT has a different approach, a professional and well informed approach with a direct link in the commissioning of services it can inform and re-educate (if needed) services to the needs of the service user to help them on their own personal recovery journey.
One of the RSA’s workshops was held in London and was a “Dragons Den” approach, asking experts by experience and experts by profession to come up with an ideal service and pitch it to the “Dragons”. From this a lot of ideas were formed and some of them will be implemented which gives me a real sense of ownership and involvement.
EXACT, with the help it has had from the RSA and the DAAT, can move into it’s next phase, and part of it’s plans for a “Recovery Community” to open a one stop information shop for service users in Bognor Regis are coming close to fruition with funding from the DAAT and more importantly funding we have secured ourselves from local government and Guinness Hermitage Housing (with other funding streams in the pipeline). EXACT has a solid foundation and I hope to be involved for a long time to come. EXACT and the RSA played a big part in my own recovery from alcoholism and I’m sure that it will help many, many more with the struggle to become free from addiction.
Thank you Glen for sharing your story.