Fatou’s Story

My mum died the day I was born. Complications and loss of blood. So it was just me and my dad. I owed him, he used to say.

He has been dead for 8 years now and I am slowly starting to believe that he won’t be able to touch me again and that perhaps I will have a chance to love and be loved instead of feeling dirty, ashamed and helpless.

Last year I met Bill at my doctors surgery. Bill worked for Blenheim. He was there every week when I would go to get my script. Every week I talked to him a little bit more and after 6 months I gave in to Bill and went to Blenheim. It was in the Wednesday Women’s group that I spoke about my father for the very first time. It was like the words took a hold of me, like I was in a silent movie and an actress was saying my lines. Then my tears took over and I didn’t want to stop until I had wept him out of me.

Last week I did something I thought I would never do. I went out on a date. We are going out again next week.

Fatou's story

Yasmin’s Story

I came to England from Iran over 30 years ago. My husband died ten years later and I felt completely alone. I didn’t know anybody else. Even though he used to beat me, it was not everyday and I loved him and missed him too much. I had never tried alcohol or drugs in my life before because I thought they were evil and I was too frightened. When my husband died I didn’t care about my life anymore so I started to smoke some cannabis and it helped to ease my feelings of emptiness. Drugs were easy to buy where I lived so I tried crack cocaine and that helped too.

I became ill and it was my doctor who contacted Blenheim. I didn’t want to be helped but after a while I preferred to go to the groups than be on my own with my cannabis and crack. Blenheim’s Women’s group helped me to accept that I deserved more from my life and that my husband was really the one who had needed help. After a while I was going to Blenheim everyday and to the weekend activities. It makes me laugh to think that my first friends in this country were all drug addicts.

Blenheim helped me through detox and rehab and my Blenheim volunteer helped me to move into my new supported housing. I am now drug-free for over 10 months and I still cannot believe that this has happened to me but I do believe that I am more happy and content than I have ever been before.

Yasmin's story

Juan’s Story

Hola. My name is Juan but you can call me John if you like. Everybody does now. Our mother always said that our father died a hero and our step father was a bigger hero because he bought us to London and a better life. I didn’t see it as a better life, but I could see that mum was happy so for a long time I pretended I was too.

Then I met Sylvie and it was a better life. I instantly and completely fell in love with her, she was infectious and life was exciting.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that Sylvie was addicted to cocaine and after a few months I was too. I was working at a department store on Oxford Street at the time. Every penny I earned went on Sylvie and cocaine but it wasn’t enough. When I was caught shop lifting by my manager the humiliation was my wake up call. Instead of calling the police my manager took me to Blenheim. I will never forget the risk she took and her act of compassion was my motivation to my recovery.

I never did see Sylvie again I suppose she’s with some other mug now.

Juan's story

Chrissie’s Story

I had a happy childhood and did well at school and went on to study medicine. I met my husband, Simon when I was 28, we worked at the same health centre and we had our twin girls Freya and Isabelle 3 years later. I loved every part of my life.

I was away at a conference when it happened, when my life was ripped apart. I was told that it was instant, so they didn’t suffer, as if that was some comfort. The driver was convicted of dangerous driving, as if that was some comfort. No, the alcohol and prescription drugs were my only comfort, the only things that could numb the pain.

I was terrified about my first appointment at Blenheim. I walked past the door a hundred times that morning before taking a deep breath and eventually pressing the buzzer. Seconds later a friendly face opened the door and I stepped inside.

That was two years ago and with time and Blenheim’s support I was able to replace the alcohol and drugs with groups and key work sessions, recovery plans and voluntary work.

I have moved away now, it helps to be somewhere new – I still pop into Blenheim when I’m in London, the friendly face is not always the same but the welcome I get is – a comfort that I don’t want to change.

Chrissie's story

Oscar’s Story

I grew up believing that I was an ‘accident’. Mum already had two kids who had left home before I arrived. Mum treated me like I was the best thing that had ever happened to her. I should have felt lucky being so loved but I just felt trapped and overwhelmed and the more caring she was the more I fought against her. I was angry that I had a granny for a mum and didn’t have a dad. I started using drugs when I was about 14. It wasn’t because I wanted to take drugs it was because I wanted to ‘fit in’.

It was when mum was in the hospice that I finally found out about my dad. He had died of a drug overdose when mum was in labour with me.

I guess I’m lucky that I had the time to make it up to mum and be the son she deserved before she died. I owe Blenheim for that.

I’m now a mentor at one of Blenheim’s young people projects. I meet lots of young people who also just want to ‘fit in’ to something or someone, like I did. I believe that I’m helping them to ‘fit in’ to something good.

Oscar's story

Amanda’s Story

I have always loved my job and the people I work with are like family to me. When I used to hear customers say that they wanted a better work/life balance I didn’t understand what they meant because my work was my life and I didn’t have a life without it. I have worked at The Golden Lion pub for 15 years now, ever since my daughter went to live with her father and his new family up north. At the end of a shift I would go to the other side of the bar for my social life. I didn’t want to go home as there was nothing there. Home had become a place to just sleep.

I hadn’t noticed that I was drinking more, but my boss, the landlord had. I had no choice but to take up his advice and get some professional help, after all, as I said, my work was my life.

Not only have Blenheim helped me to control my drinking and improve my health, Blenheim have also given me the confidence to add new interests and people into my life.

I still love my job and they are still like family to me but I don’t go to the other side of the bar at the end of my shift, I go to college or I go and meet new friends for coffee or I go home and I enjoy being home now.

Amanda's story

Pat’s Story

I was born into a large Irish family and an even bigger drinking culture. I don’t have many happy memories from my childhood because the violence and alcohol made it feel unsafe and chaotic and even though the house was always full, I felt lonely, like I didn’t belong.

I left home as soon as I could. They didn’t know it but I knew that I would never go back. I didn’t have any dreams or ambitions, just a determination to live life differently and then I lost that too.

When I found Blenheim’s CASA project last year I was a mess. I was the drunken dad to 3 kids who were afraid to be around me. I was the angry husband of a woman who despised me. I had acute liver damage and I was scared.

I’ve talked and listened more in these past few months than I did in my entire life and I’m good at it. I’ve just got my Level 3 in Communication to prove it and I’m now starting a course in Counselling. I volunteer as a service user rep and even go to the gym. I have been sober for 5 months and my kids are getting to know a new dad. I now accept that my dad wasn’t a bad man, sadly it’s too late to tell him but luckily it hasn’t been too late for me.

Pat's story