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"I was terrified!" - Jack's story

Jack is 25 years old and came to HARP in June 2019 after being evicted by his landlord.

He had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for years and had even been homeless for a while when he was just 19. His dad was able to take him in but died when Jack was only 21. Jack's alcohol and drug use then became a coping mechanism, resulting in him losing jobs and eventually his home.

Jack is now in recovery and waiting to start university where he will move into student accommodation.

“I was terrified. Before I came to HARP I was in a really dark place mentally. My mum knew I needed more support than she could give me so she brought me to HARP,” said Jack. “I didn’t know what was going to happen but the thing that scared me the most was knowing that I couldn’t drink anymore. I just knew I had to stop. I looked around and saw where it had got me to so far – I was moving into a homeless shelter - and I thought ‘this is real’.”

HARP’s team helped Jack to settle in, making sure he got the support he needed.

Jack made the most of the support available at HARP’s Bradbury Day Centre, attending CBT, recovery groups, art sessions, and even tai chi lessons. He was also able to access other local agencies including STARS (Southend Treatment and Recovery Service) and local 12-steps programmes for drug and alcohol recovery.

“I’d never really done anything to sort my life out before but the people at HARP were really nice. They could tell I was scared and tried to make me feel comfortable. The staff spoke to me like I’m human and supported me with no judgement – they didn’t look down their noses at me.”

Jack’s life has turned around since coming to HARP, as he has been studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma and working part-time. He has applied to study psychology at university.

“I’ve always been interested in psychology and I want to help people. I’ve now got a plan - I want to work for the NHS and do a PhD,” he said.

Without HARP, Jack says he might not be here today.

“I might have killed myself either intentionally or accidentally. I’d been into hospital for problems with my liver and heart, which was made worse by the drink and drugs, and in the weeks before I came to HARP I had been contemplating suicide every day. One day I might have gone through with it but since being here it’s not even crossed my mind. Now I feel I’m able to become a productive member of society and move forward.”

HARP has also supported Jack through the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

“My family are in Canvey and I can’t see them but the office staff keep calling and checking on us. When our house had to self-isolate because one of my housemates had virus symptoms, staff brought us food and other essentials like toilet roll to keep us going.”

“I can’t thank this place enough for what it’s done for me. Before this I didn’t have support around me but sometimes you just need someone to say ‘I believe in you’, to pat you on the shoulder when you do something positive and say ‘well done, keep going’. That’s what a lot of people need – just that bit of support.”

You might also like to read: "HARP saved me": Mark's story

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