Overcoming trauma and addictions and finding hope and new purpose for life
I went into care when I was four days old. When I left at 17, I couldn’t read or write. All I left with was an alcohol and drug problem and the trauma of being abused. I ended up on the streets and in and out of prison.
I went to cookery classes [in prison], because the food you cooked you got to eat. I found I had a knack for working in kitchens. When I left prison, I got involved in a project for survivors of abuse. My worker there brought me to Glasgow City Mission – I was looking for something to do with cooking.
I got involved in the inquiry that’s going on. I was one of the first to give evidence. It brought back a lot of bad stuff. I come here and all that gets left at the door – I’m as close to normal in here as there is. I’m with people who have been through similar to me and it’s a platform to moving on and getting settled – that’s my next step, getting a home.
Never had a home of my own
I’ve never had a home of my own. I had a home when I was married and had kids, but never on my own. It’s been the streets or hostels or prison. I come in here and I’ve got a smile on my face, and I don’t normally smile.
The hardest bit is coming up. Christmas is really hard for me. Being in here will take some of that away. [On a usual Christmas], the second week in December I’d go into hibernation until the end of January. I’d shut the curtains and put the lights off.
In the home, Christmas wasn’t celebrated. No one was coming to see us, others had uncles and aunts. We had no one – we were kept separate, as far away as possible. Christmas brings back memories from the past, from care, from the streets. When you’re on the streets you start to grudge other people their happiness. I’m hoping being at Glasgow City Mission will change my outlook on it.
Glasgow City Mission keeps me alive
Glasgow City Mission keeps me alive, it gives me something to do every day, it gives me a purpose. I’m putting something back into something I’ve taken from in the past.
I enjoy cooking for people. A hot meal in the winter when you’re on the streets is amazing. I don’t want to be on my own at Christmas because I know where that will take me. The older you get the harder the fight is. In a funny way I’m looking forward to this Christmas because I know I’ll be busy.
In the kitchen if someone isn’t chopping right I can show them how to do it. I’ve got responsibility and that makes me feel good. It’s brilliant. Charlee [the cook] is excellent. He’s easy to talk to about things I wouldn’t normally talk about. The team is good, we’re all doing our part.
I shouldn’t be here. I’ve attempted suicide 7 times. I was in a really bad place. I didn’t want to be here. The last time a taxi driver found me. I was dead when he found me. They brought me back. I was in an operation for hours. I don’t know why I got brought back, there’s a reason.
Getting through Christmas
Accepting the help that’s offered is what makes a difference. Use the resources that are available and push yourself. If I can do it anyone can. I used to tell my workers ‘I’m a lost cause, I’m broken and I can’t be sorted. I’m not fixed yet but I am closer to being fixed than I have ever been. And there’s a chance I’ll be normal, whatever normal is, someone that can walk down the street with a smile on their face.
People would ask what do you want to be when you grow up? I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to wake up. Now, maybe I do see a future. I don’t know yet. I still need to face what’s in my head. If I can get through this Christmas with a smile on my face I have succeeded to a certain extent.
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