Leeds charity Turning Lives Around is helping women like Ria overcome alcohol abuse

Ria Smith was drinking 15 pints and a litre of spirits daily when her alcohol abuse was at its worst.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 11:24 am
Ria Smith Turning Lives Around chief executive Janet Spencer.

She had started drinking as a teenager and ended up in hospital as a result of her dependency on alcohol.

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But with the support of Leeds charity Turning Lives Around, she has been able to get her life back on track and look to the future.

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The 25-year-old credits her experience at the charity's Carr Beck site, the UK’s only wet hostel for women, as a key factor being able to make a change.

Ria said: "It’s taken a lot of will power and ongoing support from the people at Carr Beck but I’ve got my life back on track and am in a really good positive place.”

The hostel provides accommodation and round-the-clock support to women with alcohol dependency, encouraging them to control and reduce their drinking.

It is part of the wider work by Turning Lives Around to prevent homelessness among the most vulnerable people in our city.

Ria lived at Carr Beck for more than a year and with its support landed a part-time job with Clean Start, a social enterprise specialising in deep cleaning and decorating.

It has put her on the path to college and her ultimate goal now is to set up her own painting and decorating business.

“I find painting and decorating very therapeutic and really enjoy it," Ria said. "I want to start my own decorating business and will be starting at Leeds City College in September initially for six weeks to cover the basics but with the chance to go on and do longer courses to develop my skills and learn new techniques."

After securing her own tenancy six months ago, Ria has been renting a flat and has realised a life-long dream by taking in Lula, a one-year-old French bulldog and chihuahua cross.

She said: “I love living in my flat, having my own space, looking after myself and being able to shut out the world and just chill with Lula.

"I’ve always wanted to have a dog and now I have. I’m doing really well with controlling my drinking too."