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

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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

Syd’s Story

I was 18 when I started using drugs. Mum went into rehab and I picked up from where she left off. That’s what it seemed like anyway. I know I was scared of what would happen to mum and scared of being like her too but the drugs took that fear away.

I met Kelly when I went to visit mum. Mum had relapsed and was back in prison and Kelly was visiting her older sister. Our baby girl, Sharna was born a year later and it was then that I made up my mind to get clean. It just wasn’t that easy. I had nightmares about losing Kelly and Sharna, nightmares about ending up in prison like mum but I suppose I just wasn’t strong enough to stop. When I was arrested for intent to supply I knew I was close to living those nightmares for real.

Blenheim was my lucky break. I have now been abstinent for 84 days, from the day that Charlie, my son was born. I’ve got my first ever job interview next week. You don’t have to wish me luck, I’ve always had that and Blenheim has given me the confidence to live a better life so I have that now too.

Syd's story

Mel’s Story

The first time I ever took drugs will be my last. My 18th birthday present from my best mate was a homemade chocolate cake decorated with ecstasy pills. We were going to a new club in the West End and my mates from college had chipped in to get us a table with Champagne and Malibu thrown in. I remember being giddy with excitement. I remember thinking that the club was the coolest place that I’d ever been in and I remember thinking that everyone looked stunning. I remember dancing and never wanting to stop. I remember thinking that this was the best night of my life.

I don’t remember collapsing. I don’t remember being taken to hospital. I don’t remember my best mate sobbing hysterically. I don’t remember anything more until waking from a coma and seeing my mum’s face and feeling the tight grip of her hand. I remember crying too.

I remember the first time that I went to Blenheim’s drop in with mum and I remember promising myself that this is where I will come again whenever I need to feel safe.

I am 21 next week and we are going paint balling.

Mel's story