From addict to mentor: a resident’s story

From addict to mentor: a resident’s story
10th July 2017 Amanda Bhavnani
In Uncategorised

“I burgled my mum’s home, I’ve been to prison six times, I’ve shoplifted – all to get drugs and alcohol. Then Greenfields changed my life.”

Ms B lives in a Greenfields flat. Last July, after a three-month binge culminated in her being attacked by a family member, she had an appointment with Greenfields and accepted the support she was offered. One year on, she has turned her life around so much that she was invited to speak at The Priory rehabilitation centre in London. Here’s her hard-hitting but inspiring story:

“I moved from another town to Braintree last year, and became a tenant of Greenfields Community Housing. Due to my addiction to all kinds of drugs and alcohol, and the negative influences in my life – including family members – I was having week-long parties with up to 50 other people in my flat. This led to 85 complaints from other residents in one month. I was also being physically abused by my partner, a family member, and also their partner. I don’t properly remember any day during that three-month period.”

Ms B had always drunk alcohol, but had no idea she was an alcoholic. She also took a variety of drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine, and did terrible things to get them, including burgling her mum’s home and shop-lifting, culminating in six spells in prison.

“On one occasion last July, when I had just been beaten up by a family member, I happened to have an appointment with Greenfields the next day, as they were monitoring me and trying to help me so that I didn’t lose my home. When they saw my black eyes and bruised face, they immediately encouraged me to call Essex Police.”

The police arranged for the people in her flat to leave and, over the next few months, Ms B used the help and advice she was offered by Greenfields to completely change her life; including referring her to Open Road, which helped her to stop using drugs and alcohol. She then completed a mentoring course with Futures in Mind, which supports people with substance/alcohol misuse and mental ill health.

Ms B said: “I now realise that alcoholism is a sickness; a disease, and that I needed help to stop drinking. For the first time in 20 years, I’m working, and I also exercise regularly and keep my flat clean and tidy.” The health benefits are obvious too, Ms B added: “I was in the early stages of cirrhosis of the liver, and now my liver has completely repaired itself.

“I am now going to become a mentor to help other addicts and those with mental health problems, and I was even asked to do an inspirational talk at The Priory in London, recently. My Key Worker calls me Open Road’s biggest success story!”

Ms B is also trying to improve damaged relationships in her life: “I’ve started paying people back money that I owed them and sending thank you cards; including to my mum and neighbour. I recently saw my mum for the first time in 15 years. I’ve also made lots of new friends and one special person in particular through work and mentoring. I love waking up in the morning and I love my life. I can’t thank Greenfields enough.”

Diane Foley, Head of Neighbourhoods at Greenfields, is thrilled Ms B has taken advantage of the help she was offered: “We are strong believers in helping our residents to improve their lives.  But in some cases, they sadly don’t want to accept our help and, even though eviction is always a last resort, we have no choice other than to take steps to do so.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Ms B for turning her life around; she is a shining example to others who find themselves in similar situations.”

Do you, or someone you know, need help with drug or alcohol addiction? Contact us for an initial informal chat, or visit this page to see what help is available: Health and wellbeing