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Out of the darkness

May 04 2015
Steve is now a volunteer at the Restoration Station where he supports others. © Jane Evans Steve is now a volunteer at the Restoration Station where he supports others. © Jane Evans
Volunteering at the Restoration Station was a key part of Steve’s recovery It was Steve’s drugs counsellor who referred him to the Restoration Station. It was something that immediately felt right.

He tells me how in the early day he and Bernard, the woodwork teacher, would go out and fix people’s doors and do odd bits of woodwork. Somehow this escalated to commissions for specific pieces. Now the station is working with six people in recovery from addiction. They run woodwork and upholstery classes, and aim to promote a lasting recovery through confidence, new skills and work experience. The unique pieces that they produce from donated furniture are selling so well that they’ve opened a shop.

Steve, a volunteer, said: “About 10 years ago or so, I was constantly getting nicked for shoplifting. I suppose they finally had enough of me and so they said I had to do this course, addressing substance-related offending or go to prison.” He explained the hopelessness of the seemingly endless ‘maintenance scripts’ for Methadone that followed.

“They’ve given me this belief that things are possible, I didn’t have that before I come here, I thought everything was dark there was no point in anything really.”

Steve said: “After 25 years of being on gear, I’d forgotten what life was all about, I’d forgotten how much fun it can be, how much enjoyment you get. You don’t have to be stoned. It’s like now I can get up in the morning and I can remember what I’ve done.”

Having people put their faith in him has helped Steve, he said: “Like tomorrow, we’ve people from the South Bank coming. So I’ve got to come in and see them and discuss making a booth that’s going to be on exhibition at the South Bank, giving me responsibility. And now I’ve got that, I don’t want to balls it up.”

Steve’s life has changed beyond recognition, he said: “I’m doing things now that I never would have done, I go to the theatre, I go too the opera, ballet. I always loved classical music, but I’ve never had the confidence to do it, and none of my friends were into it.” He also has plans for the future, he said: “They’ve sent me on a couple of courses such as team management. The idea is that I’m going to help students coming through. Me and another volunteer Mark, we’re going to start teaching them.”

Steve’s advice to fellow addicts is: “Just keep trying, just don’t give up trying. If you fail, if you slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep trying, ’cause one day it’s going to be the right time for you. I was trying for years and this came along at the right time.”

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