Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue



Ace of Clubs

March 01 2020

Photojournalist James Hopkirk helps people share their experiences on He met Mark at Ace of Clubs' day centre

“It was scary at first, going into Ace of Clubs, and I didn’t trust anyone at that point. Over time I started to get to know them, and they were always kind to me.

“It became a routine – every day I’d go there in the morning and take everything out to air and dry. Ace gave me an address so I could get my benefits back and renew my CPCS card, so I could start working on building sites again. I registered with a GP through them, and I’d go and see Amy, the nurse – she told me that I had hepatitis C, but that it could be cured.

“It wasn’t just about practical stuff, though, it was about being able to have a normal conversation with normal people about normal things. They kept me positive and stopped me from giving up at a time when my mental health was all over the place.

“Without them I’d probably be dead. I mean, if there isn’t somewhere for you to dry your sopping wet sleeping bag in the depths of winter then you’re going to get pneumonia, aren’t you?”

“Methadone is how you transition from using on the streets and from raising funds illegally. It enables you to start thinking about getting your life back – paying bills, getting yourself clean and working again.

“Initially you do take both heroin and methadone, but over time they increase your dose of methadone and you take less heroin. They do it very slowly until you get to the point where you’re not craving any more. It took me many months.

“You have to go to the chemist every day – if you drop your script then you have to go back to the beginning. It’s your responsibility, and taking that responsibility is an important part of the process. Once you’re off the heroin and you feel confident that you’re ready, you start reducing the amount of methadone very slowly. I was on 90ml a day at one point, which is really high, and I went down in 5ml doses. I haven’t used drugs since October 2017, when I got the all-clear from my hepatitis C treatment, and I started reducing my methadone about six months later.

“Now I’m on a 20ml dose and I’m going to stick with that while I do my alcohol detox – one step at a time. But I can finally see an end to it, I really do see a light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Ace of Clubs, St Alphonsus Road, SW4 7AS (tel: 020 7720 2811) helps between 80-100 people each day. Find advice, food, laundry & showers on Monday-Friday 12noon4pm.