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Leeds: Ex-heroin addict tells of second chance

Scott Bell, who now works for Leeds Probation.

Scott Bell, who now works for Leeds Probation.

  • by Alison Bellamy
 

A former heroin addict who spent 12 years in jail, has grabbed a second chance at life, and is telling his story to the Yorkshire Evening Post, in a bid to give hope to other people.

Scott Bell first smoked weed when he was 13, and fell into a downward spiral, being hooked on hard drugs such as heroin by the age of 17.

The ex-Allerton Grange High pupil, who comes from Roundhay, later began committing petty crime and selling drugs to pay for his habit, but was later caught: “I spent over 12 years of my life in jail over an accumulation of sentences; one day in prison is too long,” said Scott.

“The sound of that prison door slamming in awful, even now when I hear it on TV, I cringe. I never want to go back there again.”

After progressing to heroin Scott began selling drugs to pay for his addiction and in turn ended up spending more time in prison.

Scott was then sentenced to a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement, managed by West Yorkshire Probation Trust and referred to DISC in Leeds. “I still wanted to be part of my old life but with the support I began to receive I became more and more self aware and wanted to change” said Scott.

He recalled after his last release from prison: “I was worried when I first came off methadone; I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope.

“Thankfully I felt nothing. Something happened and I didn’t want to go back. I was able to move on with peer mentor training and look forward to helping others,” said Scott.

He became an active mentor supporting staff in group work: “There was going to be more to life than taking drugs. I got involved in as many things as I could, eventually helping to deliver training which was a fantastic achievement for me.”

He designed a survey questionnaire for service users across West Yorkshire,

He then applied for paid work in recovery and was already volunteering for Leeds Probation when he got his new job.

Now 37, and with a job working for Leeds Probation, as a service user co-ordinator, he now helps other people: “It does help, I suppose, as I know kind of what they are going through.”

Scott is now several weeks into his contract. “It was a strange feeling at first to be working alongside professional probation officers and thinking back to when they would have been supporting me.

“The service user involvement role is a new initiative within probation: “Anyone can change, I never thought back in my days of addiction that I could recover and be employed to help others,” adds Scott.

“It’s a great feeling to have a regular wage, to have money coming in. I was happy to spend some of my first month’s salary on an engagement ring.

“Life is definitely on the up for me.” said Scott.

He is now on good terms with his family and re-building his life.

Scott is now a shining example of how using his experience from his darker days can be productive.

Neil Moloney, head of Leeds Probation, said: “Scott’s story is a powerful inspiration to other ex-

offenders and shows what is possible with the right support. Not only has he managed to turn away from a life of crime but also he is now working to help others change their lives too. He is a real inspiration and we’re delighted to have him working alongside us.”

 

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