I never thought at 45 I would be homeless or an alcoholic. Me and my partner would sit in on a Saturday night and open a bottle of wine while the kids were in bed but we’d never finish the bottle.
My partner died two days before we were going to be grandparents. After she died my friends told me I needed to get out more and just have a good time. So I’d go out and have a nice time and I’d be drinking when I’d never really drunk before. Within 18 months, I was drinking two or three bottles of vodka a day. I lost everything. I had a lovely house and two children but I just let it all go – it was horrific.
To go from being outside to having my own pillow and duvet – I was over the moon!
I ended up in hospital and I was in a terrible state. I was basically going to die – my liver was huge! I thought ‘I’ve got to get help’. I went and stayed with my sister and her husband. She tried to detox me but then I would meet up with people in town and they’d offer me a drink. Eventually I got a place at a night shelter.
I was living in a tent in the woods and also went to a night shelter. There were lots of services that tried to move me away from the area. But I had everything around me here, including a church which I’ve stayed at, and if I moved away I wouldn’t have anyone. So I stuck it out and they referred me to Transform. I was so pleased.
I went to see the room and moved in on the same day. To go from being outside to having my own pillow and duvet – I was over the moon! I’ve got a really good friend in the house now. He’s been a really big help to me.
I also did the iAccess course and got myself off the alcohol. It was really hard at first, sharing my story but once you start listening to everyone you realise you’re all the same.
At Transform the staff are brilliant, you can go to the office and talk to anyone and they’ll all listen. Before Bev became my keyworker she came to one of the house meetings to meet us all. I was having an issue and Bev recognised it straight away. When I found out she was going to be my keyworker I was really pleased.
I’m able to cope with things a lot more now. My dad died last year. He had dementia which was tough. It meant that he saw me become a drunk but he never saw me get well again which was a bit gutting. He was a lovely man. It was tough but I wanted to make sure I was strong enough to just carry on.
Now, life’s good. I’ve got a lovely lady in my life, I told her from day one about the drinking and she’s really supportive. I’m now supervising at the shelter that helped me in the first place. My sole purpose for doing it at first was to not be on my own at night, but I also want to help other alcoholics. Sometimes the people I help say to me “you don’t know what it’s like.” And I say “well actually I do, I was in here 18 months ago. Trust me your life will change.”
Now, I’m looking to start work again, I need to do it slowly but surely. If it wasn’t for Transform I probably would have died, drunk in a park somewhere. It’s just a massive transformation – the fact that someone is willing to help, knowing that you’ve got all these problems. It’s changed my life – I’m alive!
Finally three years on I have my own flat and a wonderful relationship with my sister who’s been amazing.
Bev, Jason's Housing & Support Officer
Jason was quite chaotic when he first moved in with us. Although he was feeling depressed about his wife’s death he managed this by trying to keep very busy. He also found the transition to living in a shared house quite difficult from his time spent street homeless.
So we’ve helped Jason with benefits and paperwork, he’s quite capable but sometimes he just needs a bit of reassurance. I also go to appointments with him sometimes; having a keyworker at appointments can help.
There is also an element of emotional support. Often when he speaks about his wife he gets quite emotional and around anniversaries so it’s giving him support or space to speak about it and be upset and not feel uncomfortable which he might not want to share with his housemates. I have also encouraged him to make links back with family, which he is doing.
One of the most important parts of my job is to treat clients how you would be want to be treated yourself, and I think Jason really appreciates that he is treated with respect despite what he’s gone through.
He’s definitely done an awful lot for himself, but at times he just needed someone to discuss things with. He’s ready to move on now and I’m confident that in the future he will be able to move into full time employment.