I grew up in a home filled with alcohol, drugs and violence, and started drinking when I was young by taking a bit of the alcohol lying around the house. I liked the feeling – it made me forget about everything that was happening.
When I was older I couldn’t get a job, so I turned to dealing drugs and petty crime to fund my addiction. Eventually, I ended up in prison, where I had a bad episode smoking spice. I had to be taken to hospital where my heart temporarily stopped beating. When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything: it was like the spice had turned me into a different person. I realised that things had to change.
I loved approaching people on the wing and offering them support and guidance. I felt privileged that they trusted and could open up to me.
In prison, I felt like no one had ever really understood what I was going through, until I went to see someone from Forward. They were so supportive and new exactly the right things to say, which helped me to open up.
After I got clean, Forward approached me about becoming a peer mentor for others in similar situations. I thought there was no way I would be able to pass the training, but I did. I even went on to win an award for Best Peer Supporter! I loved approaching people on the wing and offering them support and guidance. I felt privileged that they trusted and could open up to me.
When I was released, I was sent to The Bridges, Forward’s rehab centre in Hull. After completing the programme, Forward’s housing team found me somewhere to live near my mum who was in bad health. This meant that I could be near her in her final days and she could finally see me clean and healthy.
The house supplied by Forward gave me a bit of my life back and the breathing space I needed to turn my life around. When I was in prison, I saw people come back soon after they left, after re-offending because they had nowhere to live. Having housing and support from Forward helped me stop this cycle and change my life. The support from Forward changed my life.
Forward’s counsellors and key workers showed me that recovery is working on yourself as well as your addiction. They helped me understand what had happened to me and taught me to believe in something bigger than myself.Sylvia D’s story, Forward’s Recovery Support Coordinator and former client Read Sylvia’s story