Peter’s Story

Looking back I suppose I didn’t have the greatest starts in life. I can only blame myself for that really. I started drinking when I was about 11 and smoking cannabis soon after. I know that I played up a lot at home and I guess mum just couldn’t handle me anymore, so I was sent to a boarding school. Drugs were always a part of my life…actually, drugs were my life. Acid, ecstasy and cocaine, rave scene…it was fun, felt good.

I got married when I was 20 and we had a kid. I was so unhappy, just felt flat, trapped, like my life wasn’t going anywhere and I sank lower and started using crack. Before long I was injecting crack and heroin. My wife left and I ended up doing 6 years for attacking her new bloke. At least I kept clean when I was inside and I promised myself that I would never end up in prison again.

To be honest I did relapse when I was released but I begged for drug money because I didn’t want crime to fund my habit.

It must have been a year later when I came across Blenheim. I was on a subutex script but it was hard because I was staying at my mate’s who was still using. I started the day programme and Blenheim helped me with my housing and eventually I got into supported housing. I took up all the support that was on offer. I knew that I wanted to get clean and stay clean. My counselling sessions were really tough, talking through the mess I had made of my relationships and my childhood. I stuck at it though.

I have now finished a course in Construction through Blenheim’s ETE programme and I’ve even done a few temporary paid jobs.

I feel strong enough to do this now and still have support from my key worker and ETE worker.

Peter's story

People say that I am a nice guy, funny and supportive even…I never thought anyone would ever say that about me.

Clarissa

I have been a massive disappointment to my parents. I was a cute, blond haired and blue eyed boy called Clive and I knew from the age of 9 that I wanted to be a girl. Secretly slipping on mum’s dresses and shoes was enough in my teens but in my mid-twenties I made the decision to have surgery.

That was also when I started using heroin. I was just so lost and lonely. For years I had felt trapped in the wrong body and then I felt trapped in a body that I no longer recognised. By this time I had moved away from my family to ease their embarrassment and shame. My drug use increased and I started injecting heroin into my new body which felt foreign to me. I didn’t see myself as a man or a woman, I saw myself as a freak.

It was on Christmas Eve last year that I finally walked through Blenheim’s door. I was in bad shape after being attacked in the street. There was a nurse on site and after an assessment I was given a key worker or miracle worker as I call him. I am slowly coming to terms with who I am. I accept now that I am not a bad person.

Clarissa's story

Ella’s Story

I guess you could say that I had a lucky escape. I am 20 now and thanks to Blenheim, I am back on track. I had what I thought was a pretty idyllic childhood. My father was a very successful and wealthy businessman and I grew up with my two brothers in Chelsea. I didn’t think that I was spoilt because all my friends were just like me.

I did well at school and my private tutors were keeping me on schedule for a place at Oxford.

I ‘crashed’ when my parents separated when I was 17. I was shocked, devastated and angry and for the first time in my life I felt vulnerable. I started drinking to excess and then started using cocaine. I managed to keep it all hidden from my parents, or maybe they were just too preoccupied to notice. I was also falling behind with my studies and I saw the life that I had wished for quickly slipping away.

I walked past Blenheim’s Insight project one day and walked straight in the next. I was amazed at how friendly and non-judgemental everyone was. I suppose that I had always been afraid of drug addicts and alcoholics. Yet here I was, one myself and I realised how judgemental I had been. I went to the project every week after that. Blenheim helped me to identify the patterns of my drug use and drinking and to understand the triggers and cravings.

I am now in my 2nd year at Oxford and completely drug free although I do have the odd glass of wine. I am learning so much at University but it will never come close to what I have learnt from my time at Blenheim.

Ella's story

Geraldine’s Story

I came to London 25 years ago when I was a naive 20 years old. I was on my own but that was what I choose. I thought that it would be better that way. I was trying to build a new life after having to give up my baby for adoption, I wasn’t married you see.

I had called her Mary after my mother who had passed away when I was 5. At first I tried not to think about Mary but that didn’t work so instead I imagined that she was with me all the time, invisible to the world but not to me.

I worked and lived in a large hotel. It suited me, having people all around helped to ease the loneliness and numbed the reality out of me. Most of us were taking some drug or another. The hours were long and I suppose we all had something that we were running away from or wanted to forget.

I’m ashamed to say that I cannot remember my first encounter with Blenheim. I was pretty messed up then. This past year has been the hardest and most incredible of my life. I am working part-time now, I have friends and my own place. It’s small but there’s only me and for once that feels ok.

Geraldine's story