Simon's #BelieveInPeople story

A bald man smiling at the camera. the image sits on a background of dark blue and lilac

In today’s #BelieveInPeople story, we spoke to Simon, a Recovery Worker at Change Grow Live, who shared how he is now in his dream job.

"I don't even consider myself to be in recovery anymore. I’m just living life”

“After I got clean in 2010 with support from Change Grow Live, I started up my own business as a plasterer. When COVID happened, I got to a point where I wanted to change. I wanted to be able to get up in the morning and want to go to work, not get up in the morning and while I'm having my cup of coffee be thinking about how I'm going to get home.

Finding a dream career

I'd always wanted to work within drug and alcohol services, but my confidence was not that great. I started off with Change Grow Live’s peer mentoring training. I really enjoyed that, and the support around it is phenomenal. Then from there, I decided I wanted to work within the services. I eventually got a job with Change Grow Live on the outreach team, and later as a recovery worker. It was my dream job.

I support people when they first come into the service, and I support them to go up to the next stage in recovery. That can involve everything from supporting them to sort out their finances and any debts, and their medication as well.

I say supporting them - they do it. If they struggle, I'll sit with them and help them, but it's not about me telling them what to do. It's about them telling me what they want to do, and me trying to find ways and means of helping them to do the things that they want to do.

It's all about changing our behaviour. I feel proud that I'm in a position to help somebody else. I think I could have gone through life not helping other people and plastering and doing what I was doing. But I think the satisfaction of watching someone grow and change is really cool.

Helping people to change

I don't even consider myself to be in recovery anymore, I’m just living life. Now it’s about me trying to be a better person and trying to do more for myself and others.

I think that if I can do it, then anyone can do it. I think sometimes having my experiences can work for me, and sometimes it can work against me.

Even though I'm years away from my substance misuse, people still remember me. Sometimes that goes in my favour because they go ‘oh look, he can do it’ and then sometimes it doesn't go my favour where they think they can try and manipulate me. I have to be really careful with the boundaries, but I think that I'm always learning.

I think the good thing about working here is you get to know the people you’re supporting really well. I want to make sure they're all still doing all right.  And it's kind of like we build up some really strong relationships. It's about showing them that we're there to support them.

It's a privilege to be sat in the room with someone on a one-to-one and they give you something of their life. And then having some of the stuff that I've learnt through training and some of my own personal experiences as well, helps me give support.

I'm not there to point the finger. If people feel they’ve messed up, we find a way of brushing ourselves off and picking ourselves up and starting again.

We take people from hospitals, people off the street. I've been in those environments, and I know what it's like and I know how difficult that is. I've also had my own trauma and had to deal with my own trauma.

It's hard to sit with yourself. Running around, taking drugs and all of a sudden, you're coming into a service and have got nothing to do. There are groups, but there's a lot of quiet time and I think that’s the time for reflection. If I'm not feeling it, I'm not healing it.

Who believed in you?

My key worker at Change Grow Live took the time and helped me to be able to get me into treatment and sort myself out. When she saw that I’d got a job for Change Grow Live, apparently, she went to her manager and said that I'd made her year. If it wasn't for her or for Change Grow Live, I wouldn't be where I am today.

I feel really proud of myself and some of the feedback that I'm given is really amazing. I build up trust with the people I support, and that’s paramount. If people can’t trust me, I can't do my job.

Working here blew me away. I've never ever been in a work environment like it. Everyone was helpful. Everyone wanted to help. Everyone was really kind, caring, and supportive. It's changed me.”

Breaking down stigma

When I was still working as a plasterer, a homeless person walked along the road and two of the guys who I was working with started to take mickey, but not to his face. And I actually got into a bit of a debate with a bricklayer about that and said ‘We don't just all live on the street because we want to live on the street. There's a reason why he's where he is, you know, where's your empathy?  That could be you or your son. It could be your nephew. Would you be saying the same stuff then?’

You just don't know. Everybody's got a story. We look at people's lives and you think, oh, that's really cool on the outside. When they shut their doors, sometimes you find out it’s not like that."

If you want to change your direction, grow as an individual, and live life to its full potential, we’re here to help.

Find your local Change Grow Live service and learn more about how we can support you.