From service user to staff member
Before joining Bridge Project I was involved in a long history of substance use including cocaine, GHB, benzodiazepines and heavily using anabolic steroids. This was a lethal combination for me for 10 years. After finally reaching a point where I had enough and wanted to change my lifestyle, I accessed support through the Bridge Project and with the support from the workers, I managed to get drug free. Even though I was able to get clean at the time, I had issues with very low self-belief and morale. I did not think I was able to do the things that ‘normal’ people do, such as get a job. The idea of living in an environment without drugs terrified me and I nearly relapsed a few times.
However, I am very fortunate to say that this was only the start. I craved to do something with my future and was informed about the volunteer scheme at the Bridge Project and so applied to become a volunteer. In order to do that, it was necessary for me to attend an interview and complete the training.
In the beginning, I had mixed emotions and felt anxious about all the responsibility in this field. However, with the help and support from the staff involved and other people who were also on the same volunteer training course, it did not take much time before I had a decent understanding of this role and was optimistic to study further.
I aimed to partake in as much training as I could and I successfully finished my diploma in Health and Social Care level 2 and 3. It was very rewarding when I finished my diploma and gave me the confidence to recognize my own potential and ability to move forward in life and build a future for myself as part of my recovery journey.
I began to volunteer at Bridge Project for 3 days a week, which helped me put what I learnt on the course into a practical setting. Not only did this enable me to progress further in my development and increase my confidence, but it also helped me to continue to build on my skills and gave me purpose in my life. Moreover, this offered me a strong work ethic and strengthened my self-belief.
During my time as a volunteer and with great amounts of support, I had become a reliable, confident and competent man. It now gives me great satisfaction to be able to say that I am an employee at the Bridge Project as a needle exchange worker. I’m also involved in the steroid clinic which runs at the Bridge Project once a week and draw on my own personal experiences to offer support to other people who want help.
I am continuously undergoing training to keep myself focused on maintaining and developing my skill set, and I’m currently on the FDAP course so that I can continue to move forward in my career in this field. I’m not sure what my next step will be, but I do know that by continuing on this path I have great opportunities ahead of me and can leave my drug using past in the past.