Lisa was born in Derby, and lived with her mum, dad and 12 siblings.
“Drinking had always been present in our household as my mum was alcohol dependent. Life at home was turbulent and I struggled to fit in a school environment meaning I went to a special needs school. My mum left the family home when I was four and I was left to bring up my siblings with my dad. Due to the pressures at home, I started to drink as a coping mechanism from the age of 12-13 and then ran away from home and slept rough from the age of 14.”
Sleeping rough lead Lisa to a life of sex-working and drugs in an attempt to numb the pain of her situation.
“I met a boyfriend during this time who encouraged me to use hard drugs which lead to many years of abusing heroin. When he went to prison a number of years later, this was the kick start I needed to stop using heroin. I managed to beat this addiction with support from a drugs service and a methadone script but still, alcohol was always present.”
Lisa decided to move to Stoke, to be closer to her mum, who had settled there.
“I very quickly found myself in a relationship with an older male which turned out to be very physically, emotionally and sexually abusive. I did a number of detoxes but due to always being around people that drank, I found it impossible to stay away from it. I was classed as a “frequent flyer” at A&E due to domestic violence or alcohol related issues. It was due to me attending hospital so frequently that I was picked up by the Frequent Attenders Coordinator. My engagement was poor and only tended to be when I returned back to hospital. The Coordinator referred me to VOICES and I met my Service Coordinator in June 2015.
I never thought that I would engage with my Coordinator effectively but she was always consistent which allowed me to start to trust her. Because of this, I had the confidence to engage with support services. We worked hard to get me into detox and whilst I was there I built up the courage to decide that I couldn’t go back home to my abusive relationship. I completed my detox after two weeks and went to my friend’s house in Crewe where I was sofa surfing for around three months.
I found it hard not being in my own stable accommodation and soon started drinking again. This spiralled into heavy drinking again after a few weeks but in the meantime, VOICES were still trying to secure me suitable accommodation. I had been knocked back by various housing providers who didn’t believe that I would be suitable in my own tenancy due to the high number of police and ambulance call outs at my previous address. We tried hard to convince the council that the call outs were related to an abusive relationship and not solely me as a person.
After Christmas I was offered a flat– I went to see it and fell in love with it as soon as I saw it - I thought that it was too good to be true. I went back to my friends house whilst VOICES decorated the flat and got all of the furniture that I needed using my personal budget. When I moved in, my drinking had reduced massively. It took me a while to get used to being on my own but slowly I am getting used to it. I now engage with all services and make all of my appointments. I am still drinking but the chance of another detox and potentially rehab are on the cards.
I strongly believe that being given a chance to manage my own tenancy has given me the skills and confidence to believe in myself and allowed me to focus on other areas of my life that I want to improve. I was knocked back by various housing providers who didn’t believe that my own accommodation was suitable whereas it was exactly what I needed. I am very house proud and still find it hard to believe how much we have achieved in nine months. It gives me hope in what I can achieve in the next nine months which is hopefully another detox and completing a Maths and English course. Had services still not believed in me managing my own accommodation, I would never have progressed to where I am now.”