One of our Befrienders at Horton Housing has used his experiences of addiction to help support a client through his journey and has now found a full-time job working for the NHS’ Liaison and Diversion service.
Volunteering in the Tenancy Sustainment Service, Ryan started midway through 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic ensured that the first few months of his time with us were spent undergoing training, before he was assigned a client as part of our Befriender scheme in December.
Simply being there so his client can open up to him is a key part of the role according to Ryan, as he explains: “he’s got a few mental health issues and other problems, so I guess it’s just someone to listen to his problems without telling him what to do. It’s about just being a friend”.
As beneficial as befriending has been for Ryan’s client, he admits the experience has helped him just as much.
“I’m a recovering addict myself, so we have a good understanding,” Ryan explains. “I know exactly what he is going through because I’ve been there myself. As much as I try and help him with his journey, he’s helping me through my journey.”
“Someone helped me when they didn’t have to. They gave their time up for free to help me and I’ll be forever grateful because if they didn’t, I’d probably still be in that position now. I really want to pass my experience onto someone else because that might help them, especially in a drugs situation.”
The experiences and qualifications earned during his time at Horton Housing has allowed Ryan to find permanent employment with the NHS Liaison and Diversion service. Aimed to support vulnerable people who come into contact with the criminal justice system, they identify vulnerabilities such as mental health issues, disabilities and drug addictions to try and support them to reduce reoffending.
Helping those who have found themselves in these difficult situations was not always something he thought would be possible.
“It’s weird because back earlier in my life I was on the other side of that, there were people there trying to help me so it’s a real role reversal,” he reflects. “I never thought there was a way out. It was only that one special person that gave their time free for me which changed the way I think and feel. It’s a credit to the person that spent that time with me.”
Despite securing full-time employment, Ryan still hopes to be able to volunteer for Horton Housing to use his experiences to help others.
“I have passed three qualifications in six or seven months, and that’s due to Horton pushing me on these paths. I was pretty low on confidence when I first started coming to volunteer at Horton, and I’m so much of a different person now. I’m so grateful to Horton that they gave me this opportunity so I will continue to volunteer for as long as I can.”
For more about volunteering, click here.