‘I had hit my rock bottom’ – Recovering addicts supported by Leeds homeless charity St George’s Crypt share their experiences

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Recovering addicts have spoken about how their lives have changed for the better since they signed up to a 12-month programme run by Leeds homeless charity St George’s Crypt.

Growing Rooms provides them with a bed in a ‘recovery house’, regular group sessions and volunteering opportunities designed to get them ready for employment and independent living.

Simon talks about how he came to be homeless and the way his life has changed since he joined Growing Rooms.

Simon talks about how he came to be homeless and the way his life has changed since he joined Growing Rooms.

Read more: How Leeds homeless charity St George’s Crypt is helping people recovering from addiction to make a real change

Simon, 46

“I walked out of my family home. I was causing myself and my family so much pain, working myself into debt. I didn’t know what to do.

“I was homeless I think for eight weeks living on the streets and then got into the Crypt. I stayed there for three months but I was still using.

Danny, far right, takes part in a session led by therapeutic drug and alcohol worker John Davis, second from left.

Danny, far right, takes part in a session led by therapeutic drug and alcohol worker John Davis, second from left.

“I had a near-death experience. I had to get revived by members of staff there and the ambulance service.

“From that day, I must have been put on a different path. It’s all changed from there. I went to a place so I could get the medication to come off the drugs I was using. Basically, I had hit my rock bottom.

“I see mine not as losing my house, my children, my job. They were just consequences of my using. My rock bottom was when I went into the Crypt and asked for help.

“They mentioned a 12-step recovery programme and I knew straight away that was what I needed to do.

Stephen, 42, says drug and alcohol addiction can affect anyone.

Stephen, 42, says drug and alcohol addiction can affect anyone.

“I’ve been totally clean and abstinent since November but have stayed on the programme.

“I’ve done volunteering and now I’ve got paid work with the Crypt working for the cafe. It gives me a life. I can actually say I’ve got a life today.

“The drugs aren’t the problem for me – it’s me. I have to work on myself.

“I’m a client but I’m volunteering now at Growing Rooms. I want to give something back.”

Read more: Groundbreaking radio programme is on right frequency with homeless charity in Leeds

Danny, 53

“I didn’t really try to address anything until I was 50. I saw my friends coming into rehab but I just stayed in the madness until I got so sick of it. This is what I needed.

“This is my second time here. It’s so much different now. I do my meetings and my volunteering.

“I wasn’t addressing my problems with homelessness, drink and drugs. I was in trouble all the time, fighting with the police and people. I just got so sick of it. It was just mayhem.

“I’ve got to do it for me, my family and society. I have given things back but I still need to try to deal with myself, otherwise it’ll just be back to the madness. I can’t have that. I’ve not got another recovery in me.

“My family have noticed the difference and so do a lot of other people. Even when I’ve been feeling really bad, really painful inside, it’s about learning how to manage. I couldn’t deal with that before. I could only deal with it in one way.”

Read more: Leeds residential scheme will help rebuild lives shattered by alcohol addiction

Stephen, 42

“I could sit here and say to you I had a terrible upbringing, I’ve been in care, I’ve been in prison – but I would be lying.

“I didn’t have a particularly bad upbringing, I had a job and the rest of it. This disease doesn’t discriminate.

“When I came here I had tried everything else. Other than being hypnotised, I can’t think of anything else I didn’t try to do.

“Through a lot of people working in the background, I found the Growing Rooms and the recovery programmes. That was nearly nine months ago.

“I can, hand on heart, say I very rarely think about doing what I was doing before. That’s due in no small part down to the recovery house. It’s all the structure you get and the support.

“My days before were just a mess whereas now I have to do various things. It’s not a choice. When I signed up, it was ‘You will do this’. It gives me the structure which I need, it gives me the impetus.

“Volunteering in of the cafes gives me a reason to get up, put a smile on my face and say ‘How can I help you?’

“Growing Rooms is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. All I’ve done since I’ve come here is do what people have suggested I should do and things have opened up for me. I seem to be going in the right direction.”