Debbie’s story

An image of Debbie

In this week’s #BelieveInPeople story, we hear from Debbie, who was inspired by one of her peers to join Change Grow Live as a volunteer. She explains how her volunteer training helped her build confidence, and led her to a paid role supporting others.  

My experience of working with Change Grow Live goes back to September 2019 when I came through as a service user asking for help with my addiction. Through sessions and working one-to-one with my key worker, I was able to gain confidence to sit in a group setting, something I thought I would never be able to do.   

With their help I overcame my fears and I was getting through the first stage of my recovery. I went into detox for 14 days then I was taken straight to the rehab where I was to spend the next six months in residential, and then a further five and half months in their recovery housing.   

A new direction 

After leaving rehab I needed something to do to keep me busy and safe. One of my friends who I was in rehab with, John, was already volunteering with Inspire. He put me in contact with the volunteer coordinator at the service, and my journey with Inspire began. I started doing a number of courses: Peer Mentoring, Behaviour in Conflict, Understanding Stress and Stress Management.  

All of these courses were being led by peers, including John. It was great watching John and how far he had come, so I got involved as well. I was doing all this new stuff with John, meeting new people, and giving people help and advice on recovery and what is available to them during their treatment.   

I was feeling good with myself and my achievements, but because of my confidence I found it hard to speak when facilitating sessions. I was about to give up, but I had the opportunity to try something different. I got involved with representing service user voices and rebuilt my confidence.  

Developing new skills

Now, I’m training new volunteers to become Service User Representatives. I got involved with other areas, including shadowing Key Workers and watching what other teams in the hub do. I have helped run group sessions, I’ve assessed new clients coming into the service, carried out drug testing and screenings for blood borne viruses.  

I’ve even gone out into the community and to other organisations to teach them about naloxone and train them to use it in an emergency.  

My confidence is growing, and I am starting to have more faith in myself to get out there and be who I want to be.  

After all my hard work as a volunteer, I was given the fantastic opportunity to take on a position with the very service I came through for my treatment. I’m now employed as an Outreach and Harm Worker, giving the same advice I was given when I needed it the most.  


If you want to help other people change their lives, we'd love to have you on the team. Our amazing volunteers help us make a real difference to people’s lives. You'll give people support and inspiration that will help them change their lives for the better.