I'm Carl, and this is my story

Read Carl's story

"I had a very dysfunctional, traumatic childhood. I grew up in care from the age of two until I was eighteen, so I never had a family unit. I went through abuse while in the care system. Every time I managed to get close to somebody, I would be moved. The foster parents that I lived with at the time, their son smoked cannabis. That was my first real introduction to drugs. I guess it got to a point in my life over a number of years where it became so painful that I started to look for an escape. I was in a block of flats, somebody offered me some heroin and from that point, my life spiralled out of control very quickly.

Within a few weeks, I was homeless on the streets, sleeping in shop doorways and car parks. My whole life, my whole day, was about getting money and using heroin and crack. Some of the stuff I used to do, I look back now and I think why did I do that? That's not something that I would ever imagine I would do today. Under the influence of heroin and crack, I made those decisions and didn't give them a second thought.

I'd been told by my GP that if I continued to go down the path that I was going down, I wouldn't last much longer. I remember coming in to Change Grow Live and I was broken at that point. I was mentally, physically and spiritually broken. I came through the doors - I didn't walk through them, I crawled through them.

One thing that initially sticks in my mind was the first interaction that I had in the reception of Change Grow Live. It was a peer mentor who came up to me in the reception and spoke to me, asked me about my life. He asked me what I needed, asked the reasons why I was here. He made me a cup of coffee and he made me feel really welcome. I remember leaving here that day and just having that little glimmer of hope.

When I got into recovery and was completely substance-free I came in and saw one of the recovery coordinators that worked with me initially. They said why don't you try volunteering and give back to other people? I suppose for me that's a big thing in recovery, it's about giving back to people.

Then a position came up as a paid member of staff in the duty team. I applied for that position and I was given the opportunity to get that job by Change Grow Live.

This organisation is all about second chances. Here's somebody that's been through here as a service user, who's volunteered is now a paid employee. Wow.

I'm so thankful that they were willing to put the trust into me and give me that opportunity to move forward with my life.

From where I was a few years ago to where I am today is nothing short of a miracle. The main thing for me is I wake up every morning now with a choice. I wake up in a bed, I have got food to eat, I have money in my pocket, I have loved ones and family and my children around me. I have a partner, I have a job and my family have peace of mind.

I'm one of the lucky people that has managed to get through seventeen years of substance misuse and come out the other side of it. I'm just thankful for the opportunity to be able to help other people to try and do the same thing."