Martin Kitara

Breaking the cycle

December 14, 2016 :: 4.17pm
Graeme Seccombe Family, Friends and Carers Worker 2

The St Mungo’s Apprenticeship Scheme was launched

‘I struggled with the consequences of poor decisions’

From Christmas 2014 to January 2015 I was sleeping in St. Pancras train station. At the time, I was using drugs – at a point where I simply didn’t know what to do. I’ve had recurring problems with addiction most of my adult life, struggled with the consequences of poor decisions I’d made along the way and could never gather enough self-belief to move forward into a life I cared about. I’d been able to recover for periods and work but could never escape a cycle that turned around lack-of-meaning-in-life to lack-of-self-belief to relapse.

Over Christmas I had stayed in a shelter and what resonated with me was the desire to help people. I’d had these thoughts before, in rehab, in prison and being homeless – empathy and a will to engage with people. I’d volunteered in a few projects in the past but there was no guidance and mentoring and I never stayed committed. I never seemed to be confident in my position to give something back even though I’d tried.

‘I had no real expectations…’

In January 2016 when I was working with a job coach I heard about the St Mungo’s Apprenticeship Scheme. I had already started working as a volunteer advocate which proved valuable in getting on the programme.

I had no real expectations but was open-minded and willing. It soon became clear that in the level of professional training, positive network and individual support that there was something special at St Mungo’s.

I had applied and been accepted as an Apprentice Family, Friends and Carer’s Worker. Initially I had wanted to work as a substance misuse counsellor but when I began working with a colleague, who had been an Apprentice herself a while back, I began to appreciate how valuable and beneficial the role of the Family, Friends and Carers service is.

There are a lot of resources and services available to substance misusers but often those closely affected by drugs and alcohol are left uninformed with their worries and concerns. I wish there were more services like this to help loved ones who deserve recovery as much as the substance misusers do.

‘We celebrate small victories…’

We help people, in a non-judgemental way, to acknowledge what they can do better, to establish firm boundaries, to accept what they can’t change and to learn to live their lives independent of the chaos of substance misuse. We celebrate the small victories, share experiences and learn from set-backs. It’s meaningful work and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

I’m trying now to learn as much as I can about supporting people. I’ve taken advantage of the training St Mungo’s has to offer as well as picking the brains of a great team. Within the Apprenticeship there is room to learn other roles: alongside working with Families, Friends and Carers I’ve been working as a substance misuse counsellor and I’m arranging a placement in January with the Street Outreach team.

‘It has opened many doors..’

I’ve felt individually supported along the way and it has opened up so many doors for when I finish the Apprenticeship in May. I was taught to see my past as a life-experience and in doing so have recovered lost years to hopefully benefit others. I will never forget my time here, the people I met, how I was cared for and the invaluable work that St Mungo’s does for its apprentices and the people it supports.

Posted in Recovery from homelessness

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