I grew up in a broken home and most of my family were heavy drinkers. As we moved from one area to the next, I changed school a number of times and eventually left without taking any exams.
Straight after leaving school, I had a fairly normal life style with a full-time job. Then I got pregnant and it all changed. After my son was born I suffered from post-natal depression and nearly took my own life once or twice.
It was only after I had given birth that I found out my son's dad was on drugs. I stayed with him but after two years I asked him to choose between his chaotic drug use or getting clean and keeping his family. As he went to leave, I ran after him and grabbed onto his coat; I could feel the foil in his pocket. In that second, I wanted to know what was so great about this drug that he was willing to choose it over his own family. After an hour of arguing, I tried it. At first it was like all my prayers had been answered, it took all my worries and stress away. I felt relaxed for the first time in two years.
However it doesn't last and I couldn't stop. I lost my home, my car and my son had to go and live with other family members. I was homeless, hooked on drugs, shoplifting, sleeping rough and devastated.
After struggling for quite some time with my manic lifestyle, I was arrested. At the same time I was handed some court papers; my son's Nan wanted parental responsibility. Wow. This woke me up.
Through the Police and the courts, I was referred to a drug service. The service helped me get clean but I never opened up to the workers as I felt like I was being judged and had to show proof of everything. I hated going to the service, they never gave me the tools and support I needed to stay clean and I often left appointments in tears. But I managed to get re-housed, get my son back and stay clean for a month.
I still needed help, so I was referred to Swanswell. Swanswell has been fantastic with helping me in my recovery, not only are my workers really friendly, but they go and extra step. My workers have referred me to places where I can get support in getting clean, and most importantly, staying clean.
My drug worker referred me to Phoenix Futures to help me stay clean and understand my behaviour. She also helped me get a support worker, who comes with me to all my social services meetings and even visits me at home. In my appointments my support worker lets me talk for as long as I need to, sometimes, for as long as two hours.
Thanks to this great support, I have a routine, a good relationship with my family and my beautiful son and a nice home. I was lucky not to lose my son and I couldn't go back to that way of life again. I feel it's important to remember what I went through to keep me on the straight and narrow. I'm luckier than some, but I never stop trying. I know I'm not alone and I'm getting the support I need to get clean and stay clean. I've now completed community detox from methadone and I'm drug-free. I know that without their support I would still be a mess.'
In a letter to Swanswell, Naomi said:
'Before I came to Swanswell I had various workers and I never felt comfortable with them. I felt they never understood me and I often left appointments in tears.
Then I was transferred to Swanswell and met John (Substance Misuse Worker), who was great, he really made the effort with me. When I moved address, I was quite worried about having a new worker as I thought I had hit the jackpot with John.
But my new worker Julie is a fantastic woman, she helps me a lot and it's not uncomfortable at all. She always has time for me and is a great support. Julie also got me into Phoenix Futures; she gets me support from everywhere she can. She even got me a support worker called Stella. Stella is a great role model and is constantly on the ball.
When me, Julie and Stella get together in meetings, they are always light hearted, smiling and laughing, which is great. I really don't think I would be doing that well without them.
I really feel your staff go the extra mile for their service users and you should be proud of them. Swanswell is a brilliant service and I have found all the staff to be very pleasant.'