Andrew has been sober for over a year, but it’s a battle hard fought after years of drinking. At the last family Christmas things came to a head, resulting in the breakdown between himself and his family. After he left the family home, things got steadily worse. He would often be sleeping rough – at bus stops, under hedges, on the pavement. Drinking could numb, it could soften the edges of a brutal existence:
“I had to sleep wherever I could. Hence the reason I was drunk out of my mind because that was the only way I could sleep rough. I hadn’t shaved, I hadn’t washed, I hadn’t eaten. I was a mess.”
Although Andrew could occasionally stay with family, he sometimes felt in the way. And when his sister said he could come to her house, it was on the condition he stop drinking. Andrew respected her wishes, though consequently experienced severe withdrawal.
Yet gradually, with help and encouragement, Andrew managed to build his life back together. Firstly, with direction from his probation officer Claire, and later, when he was introduced to Janet at Riverside Housing. With many phone calls, guidance and support, over the next three months Janet kept in contact and together they secured Andrew a new home. Once Andrew had identified a flat, Janet applied for a grant from the Vicar’s Relief Fund which provided the crucial rent in advance. Within a week they had the funds he needed.
“Me and this flat are a team. I cried when I viewed it. It just doesn’t happen, but it did. I go to bed now I can turn me heating on, I can get a hot bath. I can have a cup of tea. I don’t need to go out and buy alcohol any more. I’m just so happy inside.”
Andrew says he owes Janet everything for the support she has given him. These days, Andrew is far more positive about himself:
“I’m getting to know me for the first time in 53 years. And I like me, I like my company. I’m becoming a nicer person. Because of the help… They didn’t give up on me and I thought ‘well, why should I give up on myself’?”