Darren, 38, a recovering addict, has been volunteering with the Furniture Project for the past three months. He’s come a long way on his journey from crisis to independence.
“It started when I was 13. I was born in Chippenham, then our family moved to Corsham and my sister was born. All the love was suddenly focused on her. To get attention from my parents I took drugs. I thought ‘this is my new life’. I was introduced to heroin when I was 22 and quickly got addicted.”
Darren’s had three strokes in his life and now wears a pacemaker. The scar on his head is a constant reminder of where he passed out shortly after overdosing.
“I was addicted to heroin for 16 years. I took it to hide my feelings and eventually I was homeless in Chippenham. I had my second stroke on the streets.”
According to Crisis, two thirds of people cite drug or alcohol addiction as the leading cause of their homelessness.
Darren eventually secured a permanent bed in the Julian House night shelter, and started to pull his life back together.
“What really helped me when I was at the hostel, and where I am now, is being away from other drug users, who make recovery so much harder. I’ve lost friends to prison, to murder, to drugs. I would have died from heroin.”
Today, Darren lives in social housing and to keep him busy we’ve organised a volunteer role for him, collecting and delivering furniture three days a week at the Furniture Project. We’ve also helped him furnish his room and gain the skills needed to move on in life.
“When I’m on drugs I can talk to anyone, but I have no confidence when I’m sober. Volunteering here I can talk to people, I’m learning how to communicate again and my confidence is coming back. Heroin takes everything from you – your emotions, your health, your family. I’ve got feelings now, I don’t know what they are, but I have them. Right now is a big turning point for me. It’s all looking up”
You can donate to our work to support more people like Darren move forward with their lives here.