Life Story: “I have a lot to thank Harbour for”
I went into care at the age of 12 due to things breaking down in the family home. This was only meant to be for 2 weeks whilst my parents, social services and I worked together to get things back on track. However this did not happen as they had hoped so I stayed in the care system until I was 16.
I had my first drink at around 12 and tried my first drug at around 13. When I moved into children’s homes I was drinking and generally being a pain so I was moved every couple of months. I was eventually sent to an approved school where I stayed during the week and spent weekends in a children’s home.
When I was 15 I was sniffing glue and smashed a few windows in the children’s home so the police gave me an unruly order, charging me with Malicious Mischief. During that time though local authorities were on strike so none of the care facilities available to me would accept new referrals. I was remanded to Corton Vale Prison for women until they could find me a place in a List D school (a residential school for difficult or disruptive students). I spent 4 weeks in solitary confinement there as it was a prison for adults, meaning they had no facilities for juveniles. I eventually went from there to a List D school where I stayed until I was 16 and had to leave.
I was homeless for around 6 months and then found a bedsit to stay in. I spent most of my youth under the influence of either alcohol or drugs so I spent a lot of time in court.
I moved to Plymouth when I was 21 and got back into amphetamines at around 24 when I found myself in a violent relationship. During this I came to Harbour and they helped me sort myself out. I was always very cautious around authorities and Harbour was the first service I worked with that seemed like they cared. I built a rapport with the worker I was assigned and I never felt judged for the mistakes that I had made. I finally stopped drinking and taking drugs at 30.
Since then I have worked with drug and alcohol clients for around 10 years in homeless hostels. I volunteered at Harbour for 7 months and I am now working here full time in the role of Substance Misuse Specialist which I love, so I have a lot to thank Harbour for.