“I NEED HELP” – SSJ WAS THERE WHEN LIAM WAS READY TO TURN HIS LIFE AROUND
Liam Crook has been talking to Project Worker Elizabeth Judkins about his journey to recovery and the part SSJ played in his recovery as part of our ’ 50 stories’ series.
Colleagues at North Lane Lodge are immensely proud of the dedication Liam has shown towards his own recovery since he walked into the SSJ office in early 2020 and said “I need help”. Liam’s life is now unrecognisable having been sober for 15 months; he is enjoying volunteering and is waiting to be given the keys to his own rented flat.
Liam’s story demonstrates how routes into homelessness and addiction are not always as obvious as we might think. Liam describes his childhood as ‘good’ but believes things started to go wrong for him after a diagnosis of epilepsy at 13 years of age “I thought I was going to end up in a wheelchair” Liam told Elizabeth during a very emotional interview.
From here things started to go downhill rapidly as Liam began to smoke cannabis, moving onto the class B drug, amphetamine (“speed”) at the age of 15 and later smoking crack. Since then Liam has been in prison 5 times and in between times developed an alcohol dependency that saw him drinking up to 2 litres of vodka a day. Liam told Elizabeth “I was getting the shakes and sweats, wasn’t taking my tablets, was fitting a lot and was in and out of hospital three times a week, drinking hand wash in the hospital because it was pure alcohol”. He reflects that he feels sorry now “for the people that had to watch me fitting in the street…I proper damaged my body, my epilepsy got really bad and I was on so much medication”.
In late 2019 Liam was given a room at SSJ’s North Lane Lodge hostel in Aldershot which exists, in partnership with Rushmoor Borough Council, to support men with complex issues who would otherwise be street homeless. On entering the Lodge Liam went back to drinking and smoking crack almost immediately leading to regular seizures. It was only after waking up on the floor one day did Liam march into the SSJ office and announce ‘I need help’. From that point onwards he and his keyworker Hannah were able to develop a therapeutic relationship that has helped turn Liam’s life around.
Hannah tells us about Liam’s journey to recovery from her perspective…
“After a few support sessions Liam was able to start identifying some of his triggers that led him to drink heavily, we attended regular doctors’ appointments for his epilepsy and medication changes. Liam decided he would like to try an AA meeting and we attended the first session with Liam. After that he attended regularly on his own and engaged with the Lodge staff to safely cut down his drinking. Not long afterwards Liam became sober with the support of a great sponsor and the lodge staff.
“Liam reconnected with his father and grandmother with whom he hadn’t had contact for a few years and took on a volunteering job at the local military museum which helped to build his confidence and people skills. “Liam started to stabilise his life and was always consistent with his rent payments which meant that we could find him slightly more independent accommodation. He continued to grow in confidence and is so proud of what he has overcome with no intention of going backwards.
Liam sent an emotional message of thanks to Hannah in his interview saying “Hannah I wouldn’t be where I am without your help over the last few months, you helped me achieve my goal of being clean and sober. I’m hugely grateful and will be for the rest of my life”
You can help us to help others like Liam to fulfil their potential in your community by donating whatever you can. Your donations ensure that we can provide the environment and inspiration to get to that ‘I need help’ point where lives can really start to change for the better. We use funding for motivational activities that build confidence and items that help individuals move on like a new suit to attend an interview
We wish Liam the best of luck in his new flat and look forward to hearing of his future successes.
Do you have any stories or an association with SSJ, perhaps as a supporter, ex staff member or even a service user? We would love to hear from you for our 50th anniversary. Email, Dennis.Jones@SSJ.org.uk