Derek first came to ReNew in April 2016 to seek help for his drug and alcohol problems. Now, less than three years later Derek has turned his life around after gaining experience and training as a Peer Mentor, Volunteer and Service User Representative with Change Grow Live’s ReNew service in Hull.
Derek said: "I’d gone to lots of drug and alcohol services during my time and I ended up coming to ReNew through the criminal justice system. I was arrested and I decided that I would end my life. I went away to actually finish my life, to kill myself because all the advice was if you stop drinking and you stop taking drugs you will die. So I thought that was an easy way to end my life. What happened was I didn’t die, but I had a card from the cells service in the top of my jacket, where I’d gone away to die. I thought do you know what I’ve got to give it a shot at something."
After finding a ReNew card in his jacket pocket Derek decided to go to ReNew’s Trafalgar House site to seek help. He explained: “At first I still didn’t believe I could be saved. I didn’t have a problem still. I wanted to die, even though morally I’d died. But, I had nowhere else to go. Nothing else in this whole entire world. My relationship had broken down after twenty-nine years, I was about to run back to that again but I didn’t. When I spoke to the person that I did he said ‘you need to just concentrate on you’. It was pretty difficult for me to look at myself at that time because it came to a point where I realised that I was the problem, not anybody else or the drugs or the alcohol, it was me that was the problem.”
Derek started attending the Day Rehab programme and after struggling initially, began to embrace the programme. He said: “Nothing changed for me in the first four weeks. I didn’t want to change. I still wanted to drink even though I didn’t drink. I was still very veiled, I wasn’t giving who Derek was. We’d have a check-in, where we say how you’re feeling and I’d always say I was alright. Then I met somebody through the Day Rehab, who was on the programme with me. We didn’t have a very good relationship; he didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. He called me out and said ‘you’re not telling the truth’; I went away and I thought about it and I came back changed.”
He added: “I had a really great mentor which was my focal counsellor, he directed me into avenues where I would be best purposed. I started with a simple thing, which was the Breakfast Club. It was confidence building, to be alright around people. I did that and I started to grow. I was directed towards CGL programmes and I was given training.”
When asked how ReNew has helped him to change his life, Derek said: “When I came in I didn’t have any belief in anything. Not one thing. I had no trust in anybody, including myself. It gave me back that sense of identity. It empowered me to believe that I could do these things… It gave me hope! It gives me that faith and hope for every service user that comes through. I truly believe that every service user who comes through, no matter how long it takes, with the staff we have here you can get through to the other side.” He added: “When I came in I was bright yellow and I weighed eight and a half stone… This building works!”
Speaking on his future Derek said: “My outlook is to be part of the service. I’ve just been on training with the new Peer Mentors and having that bridging capability I just feel so grateful to be a part of that. By seeing the person that I saw first… I just aspire to be him.”
Derek’s message is clear; change is possible. He explained: “What you need is here. The help is available! There’s no timescale on recovery, everybody recovers at a different pace and we understand that.”