We met Paul at St Andrew's Community Network in Liverpool. This is his story.
I struggled in school. My mum left when I was 11 and my dad was an alcoholic. My siblings and I were never that close and I ended up bringing myself up. It meant that I didn’t really go to school and my dad took a lot of his problems out on me and my siblings.
ALL I’D EVER WANTED WAS TO BE LOVED AND BE PART OF SOMETHING
I ended up being quite rebellious; I had no respect for the police or for authority; I was angry with authority, I blamed them.
I was drinking and taking drugs for twenty odd years, going between Blackpool and Liverpool. I used to be in to a lot of crime, selling drugs and things like that. Before long I found myself taking almost everything. There’d be lots of times when I’d get clean, but I’d inevitably end up going back and having drink.
A lot of my family sell drugs, as well, so whenever I’d get out of jail I’d be straight back into this cycle. It gets to a point with drink and drugs when you’re getting older that it gets so hard and all you want to do is die. Towards the end of my problems I was in a hotel room and I overdosed and I was lucky to be saved by someone finding me.
It’s only recently that I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and that’s gone a long way to explaining some of my actions throughout my life; the impulsivity and things like that. I knew I was suffering with depression and anxiety, but I also knew there was something more.
I ended up abusing my family and I decided it was time to make a lasting change. I went from twenty odd years of having loads of money to having nothing overnight. I couldn’t believe where I ended up.
I was in a ‘sit-up’ which is somewhere with a bit of shelter but no beds, somewhere that you’d have to grab whatever space you could. They found me in a really bad state. I didn’t have anything. They gave me food vouchers and I came to the foodbank. At the time, everything felt like a daze. I felt very depressed, I had low self-esteem; I didn’t know where life was going to go or what I should do. I felt embarrassed and shy about coming to the foodbank; I’d never been in that position before. I never thought I’d be coming back.
All I’d ever wanted was to be loved and be part of something; I didn’t like selling drugs, I just got stuck in a cycle of impulsivity.
Shortly after going to the foodbank I went to rehab and I realised there was something missing in my life. So, I decided to go to church. When I walked into the church I felt like I wasn’t worthy; I wondered why any of the people there would want to talk to me. But straight away I felt a sense of belonging. God came into my life.
GOD HAS KEPT ME ALIVE AND GOT ME TO WHERE I AM NOW.
The next step was that I started volunteering and I found myself back at the foodbank. Without the foodbank, I don’t know where I’d be. Without the network I don’t know where I’d be. Volunteering here is a must for me. They’re like my family here. Whenever I see people here they always ask how I’m doing and they’ll help me with anything I need help with.
Now I’ve been able to get a part time job as a support worker with kids; one of the kids has ADHD and it’s great that I can use my experience to support him. I’ve also been encouraged by my friends at the foodbank to start my own cleaning business, so that’ll get off the ground soon.
I’m also able to start spending more time with my family. It’s brilliant for my kids to see me back to normal again. I was able to take my daughter Christmas shopping in Manchester recently; that’s not something her mother would’ve let me do a year ago, but now she knows I’m doing ok, it’s something I’m able to do. When I see my daughter, I can tell she’s so happy to have me back.
I look back at all that happened before I came to church and I think: ‘that was a God thing. God has kept me alive and got me to where I am now.’
St Andrew's Community Network has received support from Church Urban Fund and the Together Network in Liverpool and is doing amazing work to transform lives and communities.
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