Joanne is one of our managers. Her own experiences have helped her to empathise with the people she works with and understand the challenges they face.

This is her story.

“I had a good childhood, a good upbringing. I did really well at school and went onto college. There was a lot of heroin around when I was a teenager and a lot of my friends were using it. Curiosity got the better of me, I tried it and I liked it. I liked the way it made me feel.

“It started with using heroin on a Friday. I continued to work which led me to living two lives. This went on for many years. I then started experimenting with other substances. Smoking crack and using prescription drugs that I bought from the streets. It then became obvious to everyone I was using.

“I became pregnant with my daughter. I was scared to go to a doctor. I was afraid they would take her away from me, so I weaned myself off the drugs on my own throughout my pregnancy and she was born healthy. After I gave birth, it wasn’t long before I started using again.

“My manager would ask me why I was turning up late and I had the attitude that I was right, and everyone else was wrong. This continued until I became pregnant with my second child. I was 35 by this time and I needed to make changes. I wanted to change but had so many failed attempts. The power of addiction has great strength.

“I eventually realised I could not do this alone and I went to a drug and alcohol service for treatment. I also went to a one stop maternity programme for pregnant women who were on drugs and I weaned myself off again. My doctor at the time was amazing.

 “I applied for voluntary work at a scheme which Horton Housing later took over and I was offered a job helping people in recovery. Working there really opened my eyes and made me look at my life and the way I behaved. I didn’t think I was causing any damage to the people around me but I was throughout my addiction.

“I became a manager and thoroughly enjoyed supported people on the journey of recovery and learning to live life without using mind altering substances.

“My passion was to reach out and work with people whose lives were more chaotic, people who thought they were worthless. I felt like this for many years in my life. I find that if you give people a bit of your story, a bit of your life experience, then they trust you. 

“I have had many opportunities over the years.  I studied a level three in housing management and I am now studying level five. Horton Housing have been a part of my journey, they’ve made me feel worthy, that someone could see something in me.

“I don’t see myself as a manager, but I do see myself as a leader. I understand the situations people are in. I’ve been homeless, I’ve sofa surfed, I’ve experienced violence. I have an empathetic approach but I also take a firm stance when people try to manipulate me. I’ve been there, done that!

“I’m 16 years’ clean this year. People ask me I have any regrets and I don’t. If I hadn’t lived that life I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have the strength I have today.”

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