I was a heroin user for 27 years and crack cocaine for 22. I was a recipient of treatment throughout those years and my experience with several providers was always "here's your script, see you next time". I felt written off by society, and believed my addiction was a life sentence with no chance of escape. My attitude had not helped to be fair.
Change, grow, live (CGL) came into my area, Sefton, in 2009 and I noticed a difference: a dual pronged approach where I was constantly challenged about my aspirations and lack of them, at every contact. Nikki and Sid, my 2 key workers over this period insisted that change was definitely possible if I got involved properly. They were planting seeds of hope for my future.
At the same time I noticed Peer Mentors managing the front of house - people I had previously used with, committed crimes with and spent time in prison with. They told me about their journies and how they had gone from one side of the counter to the other. Relating to this added to my realisation that I could possibly follow suit.
After much persuasion and initial reluctance I enrolled on the next Peer Mentor course - my first ever group work.
Within a fortnight it had become the highlight of my week and lifelong friendships were being formed.
I then went through the Foundations of Recovery which really made me look at my way of thinking. I always thought people who worked were idiots but began volunteering as a worker without pay and receive lots of reward from it.
I have been fortunate to work alongside so many supportive and compassionate people at change, grow, live in Sefton, Knowsley, Wirral and Warrington. I have enjoyed so many opportunities involved in recruitment across the country as a Value Based Interviewer, helping to ensure we employ people with values that align with change, grow, live's around social justice, ambition for all service users and respect. I have also been involved with implementation of new contracts in Nottinghamshire, Birmingham, Gateshead, Blackburn With Darwen, Wirral and Warrington. I have been continuously exposed to a wide range of opportunies that aid my development professionally and personally.
I now sit on the National Service User Council which has allowed me a seat on the Integrated Governance Committee, where the Board of Trustees, another colleague and I are able to question the Exexutive Directors of change, grow, live regarding the organisation's National Governance.
I believe in change, grow, live and massively value what it has done for me and so many others. If I can change then so can anyone. Thank you to The A Team.