Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine at our Community Day Rehab (CDR) in Portsmouth. She is an inspirational lady, in recovery, who agreed to speak to me about her abseil fundraiser and why she is doing it.
Whilst I was privileged and humbled to hear about Elaine’s life experiences, and could clearly see the scars history has left behind, she was keen for our conversation to be a positive one. She wanted to focus on celebrating where she is now and giving back to those who have helped her so that more can benefit from their help.
Elaine told me that the two charities that had helped her the most through her positive recovery journey are the Society of St James’ (SSJ) Community Day Rehab and the Moving on Project, Portsmouth (MOPP).
The Community Day Rehab is a service delivered on behalf of Portsmouth City Council, and provides a community support day programme for those struggling with drugs or alcohol. Elaine tells me that she arrived at the door of the Community Day Rehab ‘like a little mouse’ in October 2021 with no self-love, no confidence and no self-worth. She didn’t like being around people she didn’t know and would regularly stay away from family functions.
Despite the discomfort and initial resistance to engage, Elaine stuck with the 8-week programme and the counselling and now proudly reports being 16 months sober! It was wonderful to hear her say ‘I love myself now and because of that, I can love others’.
During this time, Elaine found MOPP through a neighbour. MOPP helps those who are experiencing financial difficulties to make sure they have access to good, clean, serviceable second-hand furniture and household items.
Elaine volunteered in the back of the shop to start with helping to sort donations. However, soon the manager was encouraging Elaine to step outside of her comfort zone and move onto the shop floor. She remembers the fear she felt when the manager said ‘one day I’ll pull you into the shop, on the till’. Elaine now opens the shop, cashes up and closes the shop, “I could never have done that 16 months ago”.
Elaine is now at a point where she wants to give back. Not only is she providing a responsible volunteering role at MOPP, she is also now a volunteer at the Community Day Service. She helps out in group sessions and supports those new to the group through 1:1 peer mentoring by talking to them about her experiences of the recovery journey. For those who are reluctant, she tells them ‘just give it a go”. Elaine told me about the pride she felt when someone in group spoke out last week and said “I look at Elaine and think, if she can do it then so can I”.
Claire who works at CDR tells me “having peer mentors at the service is so important. Someone who those new to recovery can relate to, someone who understands because they have been there and travelled a similar journey. These volunteers are so important to giving hope and strength to others. We love having Elaine volunteering alongside us”.
Ultimately, this is why Elaine is challenging herself to do this abseil. She wants to say thank you to MOPP and CDR for the support they have given to her; and to ensure that others can benefit from the service as well. Elaine’s friends and family will be attending the abseil to cheer her on as will her extended family from CDR and MOPP.
As a final thought I asked Elaine what advice she would give to others. She said “once you find determination you will find ways and things that you have never done before and will benefit from them and not get dragged back into your sad days.” If hovering at the doorway of CDR she says “come in, sit down and I’ll go and make you a cup of tea”.
Please consider supporting Elaine with her fundraising justgiving.com/team/
Saturday, 29th April at 3pm
Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3TT