I started volunteering in the field of drug and alcohol services initially volunteering with Through the Gate. Meeting guys coming out of prison on their first day of release and supporting them on that first day with appointments they may have.
This eventually lead to a 10-month paid role with Shelter on a new lottery-funded project called Inspiring Change Manchester.
My role as “A grow trainee” was kind of like an apprenticeship and my first paid role. It was also my first time working with entrenched rough sleepers. This short-term role was designed to help get your foot in the door working with services in Manchester.
I was coming to the end of my contract and obviously worried about what I was going to do once it finished. The thought of returning to the dole and living my life the way I had previously, was not very appealing, so I started to look around for job opportunities, filling in applications and attending interviews which eventually lead to a permanent role as a recovery champion with Change, Grow, Live (CGL).
This was seven years ago. Since then I’ve held several different positions within CGL; from recovery coordinator to group worker, and then to the Needle Exchange at the start of the pandemic. This led to my current role of Homeless Outreach Worker, still with CGL.
This brought me into contact with Reach Out to the Community and we have formed a close working relationship during the lockdown period. I saw first-hand how passionate the team are and the fact that they do this as a non-commissioned organisation. They raise their own money to support people in need, which really impressed me – and still does.
When Steph and the ROC team asked me whether I would consider being a trustee, I didn’t have to think about it for very long… I said yes.
Why? The answer is simple. I like their approach and the way they are able to work with individuals, not only initially but also being able to offer them long term support.
There’s no “quick fix” to homelessness and I like that ROC continue to support individuals they have seen from the streets to the home.
Did I want a piece of that?
Most definitely yes.