John's Story

I joined Sapphire Independent Housing’s Recovery Service at Hackett House in December 2015 after going to detox and rehab for my drug addiction. I’d been addicted to drugs for about ten years and thought I had finally kicked the habit, but I relapsed in March 2016. Hackett House was a dry house and one of the policies of the Recovery Service was if you relapse you have to leave, as it can impact badly on other residents if you are allowed to stay.

Instead of just kicking me out altogether Sapphire Independent Housing move me to Conway House, their all male hostel based in Kilburn. I arrived at the Conway Service in March 2016, a bit emotionally battered, bruised and unsure about where I was going now I had relapsed. I had to look at the relapse as a one off mistake and not go back to using drugs every day again, I started going to the Training Resource Centre (TRC), originally just for the coffee and biscuits and to fill up the monotony of the day, but I started making friends there and actually enjoyed it.

The TRC is like a little community, where you can meet up with friends and get involved in some of the activities. I discovered, much to my surprise, that I really enjoy art. I really got into it and starting doing some projects that meant I was going to the TRC everyday. I became friends with Darren and Brendan who were volunteering at the TRC and it was good to go and see them whist also doing activities, such as art, that I now really enjoyed. I had also started taking script whilst at Conway House, as a way to stop the temptation of going back to drugs. That and the activities at the TRC helped me fill the empty gap that drugs used to fill.

Groundswell came to the TRC every Wednesday. Stefan, who I now regard as one of my closest friends, is a Groundswell peer mentor who I met via the TRC. I used to see Groundswell once a week and in August 2016 I joined the Groundswell Peer mentoring course, where I trained to be a health peer for Groundswell, which was a life changing decision for me. Since completing the course I now volunteer two – three times a week, visiting hostels and helping clients attend GP and hospital appointments on a one to one basis.

I left the Conway House service in December 2016 when I moved into my own flat. It was a great feeling for me to move into my own place and for the last five months I have felt real independence. I was also recently nominated by Conway House staff and Groundswell for an award at the Camden Adult Pathway annual awards. I was a runner up, but it didn’t matter - I was happy to be there and enjoy the evening. It was nice to catch up with everyone, as although I love my new independence, I do miss the community feeling of Conway House and I still visit regularly.

I recently started an English course to help me with my written English, such as grammar, punctuation and expressing myself in a more clear and concise way. My written English has never been great and the course is giving me more confidence. I also recently came off of script, which is a great personal achievement for me. There is nothing wrong with continuing to take it but on script you can feel a little a distracted, with things feeling slightly out-of-focus. I don’t want that feeling anymore, I want to feel clear and like I am completely in control. To be off it feels really great.

I have lots of plans for the future with potential volunteering opportunities with Turning Point and Change Grow Live (CGL) I also feel ready to start looking for paid employment as well and hope to find something where I can use the training I gained at Groundswell. Thanks to everyone at Sapphire Independent Housing, especially my Key Workers at both the Recovery Service and Conway House and Groundswell for encouraging me and helping me to regain my confidence and independence.