One thousand and nine days ago, I woke up in cold sweats, paranoid, wondering how and when I’m going to get my fix. This morning I woke up and got ready to leave my flat for a new day at work. I rode my bike under the morning sun, listening to music and preparing myself for the day ahead. I’ve been on a journey from being a hopeless, desperate drug addict to an abstinent, productive member of society.


My journey started in April 2015, a dark and lonely time in my life. My family had disowned me, I didn’t have any friends left, and I had nowhere to go. It was the end of the road for me, again. I say again, because I’d been at a similar point many times before and I always thought that the circumstances were enough to make me stop, but there I was once again wondering how I got there, and hoping for a way out. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.


I got a room in the YMCA after being homeless for two weeks, and I was referred to Double Impact, a recovery service for drug and alcohol addiction. I was assigned a recovery worker, and from there I started to build towards coming off of drugs. It was around this time that I also returned to a Twelve Step fellowship that I had previously attended. With these two organisations working with me, I was eventually, after many failed attempts, able to find abstinence on 28th September 2015. From that point onwards my life steadily began to improve as the foundations for a stable lifestyle slowly formed.


I had achieved abstinence and was working a program of recovery every day to maintain that. In June 2016 I secured my own self-contained flat, and I returned to college to complete my English GSCE. After college had finished I was left nothing to do, no structure or motivation, so I asked Double Impact if I could volunteer for them as an administration assistant to keep busy. It was here that I met Chris on the Towards Work project, and worked alongside him and another member of Double Impact’s staff from Recovery Recruitment, who at the time was assisting me in figuring out what direction I wanted my life to go.


I was exploring three options; continue working in sales and lettings which was my most recent job, go to university to study building surveying, or return to my finance roots and complete my AAT. The biggest problem I faced wasn’t choosing which direction to go, it was the fear and anxiety whenever I thought about interviews, university, coming off benefits or even just writing a CV. My confidence and self-esteem had been shattered from years of drug abuse, and fear had a firm grip on my desire to achieve and progress.


I joined the Towards Work project as a participant on 1st November 2017. Having previously worked alongside Chris as a volunteer I was already comfortable talking to him. As he got to know more about me, my past, what drove me and what gave me anxiety, he was able to support me in doing what I was not capable of doing on my own. Over the course of the next couple of months I attended regular sessions with Chris where I built a CV, got help with some ongoing issues such as debt, participated in mock interviews and an employability week.


As my confidence grew, so did my aspirations about what I want to achieve. I made the decision to pursue a career in finance, so I started volunteering for Double Impact’s Finance Team. This further boosted my confidence and made me feel assured that returning to work wouldn’t be as scary as my thinking made it out to be. I also decided to return to college to study AAT Level 3, and this was only made possible by the support from Chris and the financial backing of Towards Work. I sat my first exam at the end of March, and I achieved 92%.


The next and final hurdle of my time with Towards Work was returning to employment. I felt stable enough to do this, and in April I was told about a new vacancy at Framework working on Big Lottery’s Opportunity & Change project. At first I was reluctant because fear again was getting the better of me, but with gentle encouragement from Chris, I applied for the job. I was successful in getting an interview, so to prepare we did another mock interview. On the morning of the interview I felt confident, and I had acceptance of it going either way. Later that day I got a call and I was offered the job. This was a huge relief, an accomplishment, and a new door that had opened in my life.


I’ve been working here for two months now, and I thoroughly enjoy being back at work. The structure, the financial security, the sense of purpose; they are all serving to make me into a better, stronger person. I know that I could not have gotten here on my own. I am sincerely grateful for Chris for supporting me through my trials and tribulations, Towards Work for accepting me onto the project, and Double Impact for providing a platform where I can learn and grow.


We do recover.


The Groundwork Greater Nottingham Towards Work project is part of the national Building Better Opportunities Programme.

Jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund & the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s European Social Fund allocation; the programme is delivered throughout Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire by a partnership of local organisations who specialise in supporting people into work.

We aim to support with those first vital steps towards gaining employment through a personalised service and support to overcome barriers an individual may face.

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