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Giving back

Once a service user is back on their feet, many wish to give something back.

My head was all over the place but I didn’t turn back because I had the support I needed.

Trevor wants to be a social worker

Trevor came from a damaged and broken family. He was put into a care home at the age of seven, and from that time on he knew very little security or sense of belonging. ‘I’ve spent most of my life in care homes or hostels, in prison, or living rough on the streets,’ he told us. When he was just a teenager, he started drinking heavily and taking drugs to blot out the sheer horror and emptiness of his life.

There were a few years when Trevor’s life was more stable. In his twenties he got married and he and his wife had three boys. But soon due to his heavy drinking, his marriage fell apart and his wife insisted that he leave the family home.

In time, Trevor lost his job as a welder and ended up living rough on the streets. Then one terrible day, he collapsed in agony and had to be rushed to hospital, close to death.

That could have been the end for Trevor. His drinking and drug-taking had severely damaged his liver. In fact his life was so full of misery that he actually wanted to die. But he was treated successfully and when he left hospital he was offered a place at a Salvation Army centre. From that moment on, his life began to change in ways he could never have imagined.

Trevor moved into his local Lifehouse – which is what we in The Salvation Army call - our residential centres for people affected by homelessness – he thought it was just another hostel. But that’s where he was wrong. With The Salvation Army he was offered not just a roof over his head, but a chance to rebuild his life and start again.

The biggest challenge Trevor faced was to free himself from his dependence on drugs and alcohol – and this was where The Salvation Army gave him fantastic support. ‘Captain Amy, the centre manager, and her staff always went the extra mile to help me,’ he recalls.

Not only did Trevor receive medical treatment to enable him to overcome his addiction, but we also supported him to see it through.

A month after he started treatment, he suffered another terrible blow when his mother took her own life. He remembers: ‘My head was all over the place, but I didn’t turn back because I had the support I needed.’

And it wasn’t just his health that The Salvation Army gave back to him, but his pride. At the Lifehouse, Trevor has been studying for qualifications in Maths and English and doing voluntary work at a Salvation Army drop-in centre for people who are homeless. He’s back in touch with his three sons for the first time in seven years and he visits them regularly. It means the world to Trevor to see his boys growing up.

He’s such a proud father that he talks about them all the time.

As Trevor says: ‘The Salvation Army has given me a life and I’m living it and enjoying it.’

He is hoping to move into a flat of his own before long and he has a new ambition – to train as a social worker so that he can use his experience to help other people who are struggling with drug and alcohol problems.