Darren’s Story

Darren's Story


My dad was a very angry man full of rage, the smallest things would make him snap and he wouldn’t just slap you he would punch you, it would hurt. He was hitting everyone including my mum so my mum left him and that broke my heart really. I suppose that’s what triggered it all off, that my mum left when I was six and I felt abandoned. I idolised my mum, I loved my mum. It affected me, I understand that today, that it massively affected me. I was very resentful over it for years. So that’s when it started and my behaviour got worse. My dad’s behaviour got extremely worse – what we now understand to be paranoid schizophrenia. In our bedroom he broke the handle off from our side of the door so me and my brother couldn’t get out. He would close the door, take drugs and pass out and if we wanted to go to the toilet or something we couldn’t. I started truanting from primary school so welfare got involved.

The first time I was arrested I was twelve years old, on Christmas Day on a stolen moped, which I crashed into the front of a police car. My mum took my dad to court and got full custody and I thought “Great! I’m moving in with my mum” only to be moved round the corner with my Nan and Granddad. So again I went through the whole process of feeling abandoned and I suffered from it severely. I used to throw myself over the bonnet of my mum’s car, screaming hysterically because I didn’t want her to go. I used to say “Take me with you”, crying. I had to be peeled off the bonnet and she would drive away. I understand now it was upsetting for her as well, it was a horrible situation. She was very young. I didn’t realize, though, that the whole time I was begging to go with my mum that the thing I was craving for was there with my Nan and Granddad.

But I was getting into trouble and eventually my mum did move me in with her and my stepdad when I was thirteen and my life changed. I never wanted for anything, it was a complete lifestyle change. I was full of resentment but it all got shunned aside and everything was answered with money. I asked for a bike on my birthday and my stepdad bought me a quad bike.

I was thirteen when I first took cocaine. On my first day of school I bought 200 fags in twenty packs to give out to the other kids so they would like me. By the time I was fourteen I was selling cocaine to the kids at school. My friends were people a lot older than me and by the time I was eighteen I was hanging around with forty-year-olds. My life got progressively worse, unmanageable, my priorities were all mixed up. Then it came to an abrupt halt because I changed the drug I was using to crack cocaine. By the time I was nineteen my addiction was so bad I was homeless. I was not able to be helped at that point, my addiction had taken hold. I was doing loads of crime, but one specific crime, I ended up getting a lengthy sentence for it and it destroyed me. The first year and a half of that sentence was very bad. I knew I had a problem I just didn’t know how to address it. So I did the twelve step programme. I was no longer taking drink and drugs through ignorance. Ignorance is bliss so it took all the bliss out of it. It’s different if you see someone who needs help who doesn’t know what the problem is – that’s someone who’s helpless. But for someone who knows what the problem is and is doing it anyway – that’s addiction. It’s an illness that’s progressive, there’s no pinnacle moment. I relapsed and it was a feeling of pain, I felt lost and I felt worthless. What I understand now is that it was a period of denial. I believe I suffer from a disease which is an obsession of the mind and an allergy of the body. So my obsession to use drugs and drink overpowered anything else. I was very suicidal. I went through a stage of not caring whether I lived or died. I used to hate going to sleep because I didn’t want to wake up.

My belief is that the only effective way you can break addiction is the gift of desperation. It’s breaking patterns of behaviour. My problem is not with drink and drugs, my true problem is living life on life’s terms. Drink and drugs was my solution, it was a dire solution and it had consequences. I burnt all my bridges, I got put on suicide watch in prison. One night I made a choice, I had a moment of clarity with the gift of desperation in a suicidal state. I was told about The Nehemiah Project and decided to give it a go.

Now I have very effective tools, I have loving people in my life because I struggle with life on life’s terms. It matters that I have people in my life who care and The Nehemiah Project plays a special role. Within the space of five minutes of meeting The Supported Housing Team staff I started to cry because of the love that I felt, straight away I got a connection, I felt so comfortable. One of the most important things that The Nehemiah project gave me was stability and security. A lot of behaviour is fear based. Fear has driven me to use drink and drugs. The programme here and the unconditional loving approach of every staff member has massively helped me. The most important thing which I identified was practising recovery whilst living in a house as though you’re living outside. So it’s created an environment of positiveness and encouragement which is the complete opposite to the environments I’ve lived in and come from. It’s being able to practice what you’re taught straight away. Sometimes filling someone with so much encouragement and love is great with rigorous honesty.

I’ve graduated now and moved to the second phase ‘Moving On’. The house is very calm and I’ve started a three year plumbing course. I go to college three days a week. There’s a young kid there who’s only sixteen and he’s very quiet so he could easily be a target for bullying. I’ve taken him under my wing and he looks up to me. I don’t tell him about my past, I wouldn’t burden him with that but I like helping him. Life feels good.

Sam’s Story

Sams Story


Since joining Nehemiah I have been able to make a fresh start. I have made new friends and I have discovered a love of cycling!

Life was not easy for me when I was growing up. I was a very angry child. I did not know my father and my mother had health issues that made looking after me and my sister difficult for her. I spent a period of time in foster care. I struggled at school with dyslexia, which made me difficult and disruptive, and by the age of seven I was sent to attend anger management classes.

I remember feeling angry and frustrated as I was growing up, never feeling good enough. At 16 I moved out as my mother found me too difficult and I spent nearly ten years sofa surfing at friend’s houses.

All of my life I have worried about what people think of me. Do they think I am annoying? When I was drunk I was worried people would be scared of me. I realise now how my insecurity led me into a world of alcohol, drugs and crime as a teenager. I thought I was having fun with my friends but I was actually using alcohol and cannabis to block out my feelings of anger, guilt and shame. I started stealing in order to afford my habit. I spent my late teens getting into trouble with the police and going in and out of prison.

My feelings of shame and guilt grew worse as I spent more time drinking and stealing. To feel better, I drank more. I wanted to feel numb. It wasn’t long before drinking was the only way that I knew how to function.

In my early twenties I tried to give up drinking on my own. I went cold turkey and would quickly relapse. After some professional support to stop drinking, I found out about Nehemiah and had an interview, was accepted and joined the programme. I very quickly felt like I was part of a big family. Since I was 16 I have never had a home. Now I have one. I have support from staff and others who are further along in their recovery.

At Nehemiah, we are treated like adults. I have a fixed address, a home. I have found a hope. Other hostels are like horror houses; there are fights, drink, they are dirty. Here it is different. We get on. We are friends.

I have gone through the programme and I am now living at one of the second-stage houses. I have been here a year and a half. During my time here I have managed to write out a business plan and receive a young person’s grant to set up my own business. My business is now going well and I am managing my own finances. I am close to my sister and mother, and I see them regularly. I have a future now.

Carl’s Story

Carl's Story

I moved around a lot growing up because my dad was in the army. It was just me and him from a young age. My mum died when I was 11 and my siblings were much older than me. I was first introduced to drugs by my sister’s boyfriend. He was a tidy taker of heroin which I didn’t realise until later. It was him who got me into computers at the age of 19. Eventually he introduced me to heroin too.

I found a good job after school. I met a girl and ended up moving in with her. Work was good. Money was good. By 21, I had a daughter. I was able to provide her with private schooling. I visited my sister and her partner often and scored every now and then. I had lots of money so that wasn’t a problem. I went from job to job; content and disillusioned. I didn’t realise that I wasn’t happy.

At 27 I got caught up in the criminal side of heroin. I started moving gear. Everything got big and scary very fast. My relationship fell apart. I had nowhere to stay and the police were after me. I ended up living on the streets. All the lies were catching up with me and affecting those who were in my life. They were getting hurt.

I thought I could change but it was then that I met my life partner. She was a drunk. I loved her and she pulled me back into my previous life. I started to move gear again. I also began to drink heavily and I took a huge amount of heroin. I ended up with a ten and a half year sentence. I was waiting to die.

Towards the end of my sentence I decided to come off methadone. I was weaned off slowly; an ounce a week for six months. I got clean. I started doing courses in prison to keep up to date with my IT skills. I also did a business programme which involved learning employment skills. My day of release was coming up. Then, I found Nehemiah. I came here straight from prison. When I first arrived, I felt lost. I wanted to know what these people wanted from me. Why were they trying to help me? I wanted to run but it would mean that I would be recalled straight back to prison.

I realise now how much this place has helped me. You do not realise what you have learnt until you begin to use it on a daily basis. If I couldn’t care about myself, I couldn’t care about anyone. This is simply the clutter of my past. I am conscious to use what I have learnt and recognise the positive outcomes. I slip up sometimes but then when I walk away, I realise my mistakes. Nehemiah is here to guide and support me. When I go home to my partner to visit, I am calm. I am much more stable.

I can’t afford to lose what I have achieved these last few months. I hate heroin. I wasn’t taking it in the end because I wanted it but because I needed it. I am being helped in life. I am taking courses at the moment and working part time for a local IT business. I get to go home and visit my family regularly. I want to do everything properly. It is exciting and scary at the same time especially as I will soon be ready to move on.

Jimmy’s Story

Jimmy's Story

I had no father. I grew up with my mum, my older sister and younger brother. Mum had a hard time working and looking after us. She became stressed and depressed. I was a child and didn’t know how to deal with my mum being ill. She used to tell us not to worry but it affected everyone a lot.

Growing up was hard. I struggled at school. I had to deal with racism and bullying. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was angry, upset, asking ‘why me?’ I wanted to be somebody. Even though life was hard I still wanted to achieve certain goals. I’m not giving up what my dreams are.

As a young kid I used to look up to certain people who were doing very well for themselves; the wrong type of guys like drug dealers. My life was up and down; I wanted to have certain things my mum couldn’t afford so I had to start hustling to make money. I started to develop a reputation.

My son was born in 1984. I was going out with a girl at the time, she was cool but we were both young. We made the decision to have my son when I was 17 and she was 15/16. But we didn’t really get on and argued a lot. I used to take him for weekends. She said she was going to give him up so I said that I would take care of him.

I began going well. I was working as a DJ, making money and selling drugs. At 19 everything kind of escalated from there. I started taking drugs. I began with weed and then moved on to hard drugs pretty quickly.

In 1999 I got my first prison sentence which was for 4 years. Prison life was alright. I missed my family and didn’t want to be there but I make the most of it. I had to look after myself. I didn’t ask for anything from anybody, I had to be patient and deal with it. I just knew I had to survive. All in all I have spent 14 years in prison.

In 2013 I made a decision to change. I wanted to be somebody and not just a waste. I was on probation and went to the information centre. I told them that I’d been 3 weeks clean, homeless, nowhere to stay and I need help. I’ve stopped before but it’s easy to get back into that stuff again. Before I knew it they shuffled me around.

This is how I got to know about Nehemiah. I came in for an interview. The same day they called me and told me I’d been accepted. I was so happy. I have completed ‘A New Future’ programme here. Everything is going well.

I am excited about having a new life. I don’t want to live like that again. I am going to college next month and want to become a fitness instructor. I have always been into training. I got certificates but need a couple more; from there I can help people who want to gain/lose weight.

I don’t want to reoffend. This is my last chance. It is all or nothing. I am using this opportunity the best I can, in order to better my life and those around me.

Victor’s Story

Victor's Story


It’s been wrong from the very beginning. From as far back as I can remember I’ve been uncomfortable in myself, uncomfortable around life. My father wasn’t around and my mum was bringing up four of us by herself, she did her best, she’s a great mum but there were some things she just couldn’t do. I was the eldest of four kids.
I grew up on an estate where a lot of people seemed to get involved in crime.

I was frightened, I had no belief and I had no self-esteem. I looked to some of my peers and role models that were on the estate but a lot of them were not the sort you’d want to get involved with. They committed crime for whatever reason. I’m not judging them.

I think what happened for me was wanting to be liked and wanting to be accepted but the people I chose, that I wanted to be liked by, were in my immediate surroundings so I got exposed to a lot of stuff at a young age.

One of the first things I ever did was commit a burglary at a school that I had just left. A couple of young guys around my estate were saying “Are you coming?” and me saying “No” and them saying “You’re scared” which indicated that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t part of them. I wasn’t worthy because of that fear. I wanted to prove to them that I am worthy and worth liking.

Some of the role models and peers that I looked to were men that saw things in a certain way. Society owed them - victim mentality, they smoked weed. I wasn’t particularly interested in it but everyone was doing it so I said ok. I was accepted, we were all laughing, I was part of an ‘us’ and that was really important to me.

I did get a job aged about fifteen and a half, I’d just left school and got a job in a factory as a spot welder and saw another side of life - getting up early every day, being reliable. I’m saving money and giving money to my mum and leaning into manhood. After about nine months it fell through. I started to drink alcohol with my peers. I think the Monday morning after the Saturday drinking I’d be getting up late and I ended up getting laid off.

So I’ve started to commit crime and it all led to me getting my first custodial sentence. Prison was one of the most horrible experiences. Being away from my mum, my sisters, I missed them. I had to walk around with a kind of a cold attitude because of other people that were in there. I remember getting attacked and I had to bite somebody to save myself. They got me in the recess and I’m thinking to myself “What am I going to do? If they get me in the recess the officers can’t see anything.”
I’ve come out angry and I’ve committed more crime which led to more prison sentences, but somewhere along this stage I’m thinking “It’s not working, I’m going back to prison, I know this isn’t it”. So I’ve gone to college, I’ve got jobs which didn’t work out so then I’ve ended up back on the estate again and I’m angry, I’ve got all this thing going on around me of high unemployment of not giving people jobs and I’m somehow unconsciously buying into it. There’s no hope.

I still tried to persevere, I did labouring, I worked hard but all it did was build up my resentment and my anger about the people I was working for - how badly they were treating me. Things wouldn’t work out and somewhere along the line the drug situation started to change. It stopped from being drugs and alcohol to ‘A’ class. So it went beyond recreational and that’s when the problems started.

My addiction was swift and vicious but at the point I was in addiction I was in denial – “I can’t be addicted because I’m me! I’m cool and everybody’s doing it! I’m not addicted!” It was just too scary a concept to take on. It was a delusional space, a level of insanity.

Each time it really did hurt and I really did mean it when I said “I don’t want to do this again” but I didn’t understand addiction. I understood there was a bit of a problem and I needed help so I did rehabs, I did counselling, I did isolation and I always seemed to end up coming back to that space where I justified consuming a drug. You could almost give addiction an identity, another part of self that doesn’t want you to do well.

Eventually I got involved in committing a burglary where I cut my finger and left blood and DNA. I got stopped one day in my car and my feet haven’t touched the ground since. This sentence brought up so much pain. I was just looking at everything saying “Is this it?” I was aware that it was just stupid choices.

I went back about the business of rehabilitating myself, staying clean. I got detoxed off methadone, because by now I was taking heroin. That was a progression that really sneaked in under the radar in my addictive life. I did get lot of support from my RAPT worker, she seemed to understand my situation and gave me some contacts – Nehemiah house being one of them.

I sent an email via my RAPT worker to Nehemiah and one of the staff came to see me. It was unknown territory and I knew it was something that I had to do if I was going to change now forever. So I took the help and I came to Nehemiah and it began.

The first night I got here I saw the staff go home and my heart missed a beat and I thought “Oh my! I could just walk out the door and do what I want if I want to” but I didn’t I went upstairs.

One weekend there was a dawn raid by TNP staff doing random spot checks - breathalysers and urine tests. I felt my heart beating but thought “I haven’t taken any drugs or drunk any alcohol so why is my heart beating?” This was telling me “You can do it”. I went to bed with a smile on my face and when I woke up in the morning I still had a smile on my face!
The Nehemiah Project gives great potential for self-development because it’s make or break yourself right there and then and it’s not just the first day you get here, it’s every day you’re left with your own life in your own hands.
I’ve finally got my teeth into life and I now identify with the saying better late than never. My self esteem is back. I realize what I’ve got to be grateful for. It all contributes to the warm feeling I walk around with on a daily basis.

I hope to start a business, to help people that were in my position, support places like Nehemiah, that supported me when I needed help. The Nehemiah is the only thing that’s worked. I’m 49, I’ve been using drugs since the age of fourteen but now I have been fourteen months clean.
They say the best things in life are free - love, responsibility, reliability stuff like that and I’m living that now.

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