Keith - a resident at Katherine Price Hughes House
For me, drink equals prison. I want to get a foothold in my life and a start to my recovery. Some of it is down to me, but a lot of it is down to having a safe environment here.
A few years ago my life was very unstable. I had no pattern, no structure to my life. My work took me all around the place London and England and other countries. I was drinking around 10 to 12 pints a day.
I was arrested for getting into a fight in a shop. There was a big fracas with the store owners. I was arrested for assault, witness intimidation, affray, ABH – everything. I was given a sentence of two and a half years.
While in prison I realised that I couldn’t control myself when I drank. I had been in prison for similar offences before, and I could see that the spells in prison were getting longer. The next time would be five, six, seven years.
I had to do some work on myself. I had to learn from day one again. In prison I stopped smoking, stopped eating sweets and soft drinks, and started to get fit. Just trying to make a new beginning just trying to change everything about myself.
But the problem was not in prison, because there life is pretty much on hold. The day-to-day routine is not too bad, it’s just so boring. The real problems start when we get out. There’s no job, nowhere to live. And no-one really wanted me around.
I had to go to approved premises to be monitored because there was a high likelihood of me re-offending. Some of my friends said, you must be disgusted to have to go to a hostel, with a curfew, and limited freedom. In fact, I am relieved to have somewhere stable.
I’ve been here for four months. It’s been really helpful. The staff are non-judgemental, and treat me with respect. I haven’t had any problems. I have built up a good routine for myself.
I am doing things that I’ve never done before – like paying my rent on time. The 11:00 night-time curfew has helped me out of trouble on a few occasions.
Without the support of this place I would not be able to go to support meetings for my alcoholism.
Staff here are really nice and non-judgemental. I’m just grateful to be here.
Up to the age of about 20 I used to walk around thinking how lucky I was to be me. You know, somebody had to be me, and I was lucky enough to be the one. The last seven years have been pretty shit. But I have always known that life can be good.
I’ll be moving on next month to somewhere with lower support needs. Bigger rooms, fewer staff, lower curfew.
That’s another thing I have learned: it has to be one bit at a time.
Find out more about Katherine Price Hughes House.