Robert is 57 and grew up living with his mum and three siblings in Birkenhead. He describes it as a tough place to grow up. He experienced being caned at school, and at home, he was subjected to violent beatings at the hands of his stepfather. At the age of 17, Robert started using heroin and rock cocaine to block out some of the dark things that were happening in his life.
Robert spent the majority of his adult life addicted to drugs. He attempted to get clean multiple times but says that although he could get medical help to stop physically using the drugs, he couldn’t get help processing the anguish he was trying to escape. He, therefore, always went back to using. He was living in a dangerous world of criminals and gun culture, where he was left for dead more than once, and he suffered extreme injuries and beatings by gang members.
Despite this, over the years, Robert had a family, including four daughters and then grandchildren. He says they are very angry about the life he led and the lies he told to feed his addiction. Robert ended up sofa surfing before waking up one morning in March 2022 and decided he wanted to change his life.
Robert describes his decision. He took himself to the station and brought a single ticket to Weston-Super-Mare, somewhere he had visited years before and where he suddenly felt he needed to be. He says if he hadn’t got on that train that day, he feels he may never have changed his life at all.
After he arrived in Weston, Richard stepped off the train and said he immediately felt a wave of calm wash over him, and all his anxiety disappeared. Although he didn’t have anywhere to stay, he says the sea air and friendly demeanour of the locals made him sure he had made the right decision.
Robert slept rough on the steps of the Gospel Hall for two and a half weeks and visited the local Somewhere to Go service for food and advice. While he was there, someone told him about a local wet house where he could get the help and support, he needed.
The following day, Robert got an appointment to meet Tina and Nita and to visit the Alabaré North Somerset home. Later that day, he received a phone call telling him he was welcome to move it at 2 p.m. the next day. Robert said that the phone call changed his life.
Life since then has not all been plain sailing. Richard plans to come off the heroin and cocaine he was addicted to; however, this has been physically very painful, but he says the Alabaré team have been fantastic and helped him through all his difficulties. He has been able to reduce his methadone script and only uses it now a couple of times a month. He says he is determined to get clean this time and not go back to his old life. He wants to overcome his addiction and is confident that he can do this with the support he is now receiving, which is helping him overcome his emotional trauma as well. He hopes to get a part-time job soon to keep himself busy and build a new life for himself.
Robert is still in touch with his daughters and grandchildren, and he says they are delighted that he is getting his life back on track.
Robert says: I feel so lucky to have this chance to sort my life out now. The support I have now is amazing, and I am determined to make the most of it and not go back to my old life. I am looking forward to the future now.
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Sophie moved in with her young baby following a breakdown in a relationship with her partner. Sophie was 17, and Tyler was just six months old.Read Sophie and Tyler's Story