Tyne Stories: Richard’s Story

Our Supported Housing offer is designed to appeal to the individual, meeting them where they are and working together to get to a better place.

When we first met Richard* he was struggling with feelings of anxiety and only found comfort in the solitude of his own room. Through working with his Support Worker, he found the motivation to work through his issues.

We spoke to Richard to find out a bit more about his journey, this is what he had to say. 

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of residents.

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I think ‘chaotic’ is the only way I can really describe my childhood growing up. When I was only six years old I found my dad dead – the trauma caused by this experience has stuck with me over the years.

At 11 years old I was already smoking weed and I didn’t really have any emotional support around me to help me with my struggles. My mam had her own problems going on so she was never really there for me like I wished she would’ve been.

I spent most of my youth living in foster care. I was already a young man, struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety. I felt that I really missed out on the typical childhood stuff that I always saw on TV. I always felt like a bit of an outsider, this made it pretty hard to make any real relationships.

Over the years addiction really started to get a hold of me. I was swapping out the weed for harder drugs and I had begun to rely heavily on alcohol to deal with my problems. I was a bit of a mess at this point. I started getting into trouble with the police often and I was frequently in and out of prison. My addiction problems contributed to this seemingly endless cycle.

To be honest, as bad as prison was, at least when I was there I felt like there was some kind of stability in my life. The time I would spend on the outside would just be hectic. I spent a lot of time sofa surfing or in various hostels.

I had no clue how to properly budget my money to pay service charges and had arrears which all added to my sense of being completely overwhelmed. I didn’t trust anyone enough to ask for help so I was all on my own to deal with these problems.

After my last prison release, I was at rock bottom. I overdosed and spent several days in the hospital.

As bad as it was, this was a huge wake-up call in my life.

When I got out of the hospital I found myself in a short-term crisis bed before being accommodated with a support service. I was anxious and a bit uneasy while I was here. Most of my time was spent in my room, I just didn’t feel able to cope with people at this point in my life. I couldn’t even face going out and I couldn’t manage any of my appointments with Probation and other services that were trying to help me.

It took me a while, and I can’t say there were no setbacks, but eventually, I started to make a bit of progress. My overdose sparked a determination in me. I dramatically cut back on my drinking and began working with Probation and Plummer Court, this led to me becoming more stable on my methadone script.

It wasn’t easy at all, and I did lapse a couple of times, but at the end of the day I was committed to addressing my problems. I also got with my lass around this time so having her there for the support meant so much to me.

I was given the chance to join Tyne’s Supported Housing. I had to be pushed to attend the sign-up because I saw this transition as a huge step in my life, I was naturally a bit hesitant.

When I first moved in I was still struggling with feelings of anxiety, I didn’t really want to talk to the other residents and was happier in the solitude of my room. I did start to build up a good relationship with my Housing Support Officer though. It was the first time in a while that I could find a level of trust in someone else. I used to enjoy just popping in for a chat most days and felt comfortable being open and honest with them.

I think being able to trust someone again had a really positive effect on me. More areas of my life became a bit more manageable, like managing my rent and attending Probation and Plummer Court regularly. My life finally started to have some structure, I felt like I was in control for the first time. I had the space and the support to really deal with my issues – I even managed to quit smoking!

It took a fair bit of work but I’m much more confident now, I enjoy participating in events at Tyne like the Christmas celebrations and cooking projects – this was a massive step for me.

I’m making a real effort now to address my mental health issues and I feel like I’m making some real progress. Even my Probation Officer says that he’s never seen me so motivated. I’ve updated my Tyne and Wear Homes application and I’m looking forward to bidding on properties and managing my own tenancy.

I’ve started volunteering two days a week. I completed my licence and am no longer involved with probation which is a great feeling. I’ve also been attending the Health Works Gym regularly and like everyone there. I still have my bad days, the difference is now I’m getting up each day and facing my challenges.

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Richards’s story mirrors that of many people who have had issues with addiction. Childhood trauma and a lack of support from his family led him to become mistrusting of the people in his life and seeking comfort through drugs and alcohol.  

His experience with prison is also a common one – for many people, getting caught in the cycle of offending is all too familiar. Immediate access to accommodation following his prison release and receiving the support that he needed during a big adjustment period in his life was vital in his journey to recovery.

At Tyne, building relationships with people is at the core of everything we do. Through building a good relationship with his Support Worker, Richard became more trusting and managed to find more stability in his life. He became more engaged with the activities on offer and was determined to take control of his life. We are proud of Richard and how far he has come.