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, and today is training hard in preparation for Bike Bath.
“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.”
“It’s all looking up” he says. “I’m going to the gym and I’m doing the Bike Bath event in July. I want to see the sights, meet more people and raise much needed money for Genesis Trust.”
In between training days, Darren is working towards getting his own flat. “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. I don’t want to be 45 and on the streets. Right now is a big turning point for me.”
You can sponsor Darren during Bike Bath here.
Or to get involved yourself and help us reach out to more people like Darren, please sign up here.