At the age of thirteen I began using cannabis and at fourteen I started experimenting with hard drugs(speed, LSD, etc), and by the age of fifteen these drug taking habits lead to my being kicked out of my family home. I was now homeless and began to mix with all the wrong crowd who got me into further
experimenting with heroin and crack cocaine. The journey from experimenting to becoming a regular user was a short one and very soon I was hooked. This meant that I was soon being sent to young offender’s institutes from the age of seventeen until I was twenty one. At the age of twenty one I graduated
to adult prison. The reason I was sent away on so many occasions was that I was constantly shoplifting to pay for my drug habits. During this period between the ages of seventeen and twenty three I had a total of fifty two convictions. For my last prison sentence I served a year and during that time
I began to search for a wider meaning to my life. I wanted a wider perspective on life and I wanted to know more about life and the opportunities that I had missed out on. When I came out of prison I begged my probation officer to find me some where to live so that I could begin to stabilise and start
the process of sorting my life out.

This was when I entered GROW. At that point I had a really bad attitude problem;
I was bad tempered, moody, rude, and I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, I don’t know why they put up with me. Then with the help of the hostel I started to learn how to cook for all the other residents and slowly it dawned on me that I needed to change my ways and my whole attitude or else I
would soon be kicked out of GROW and loose my bed which by now had become so important to me. With the help of the staff at GROW I learned to change and to grow into a more even tempered person. I began to realise that the staff were my friends and that I had much to learn from them. Even though I no
longer live at GROW I still consider all the staff to be my friends and I know that they are still there for me.

With the help of GROW I was able to achieve my dream of having my own flat. They found a flat, helped me to access the Deposit Guarantee Scheme, and even supplied me with a repayable bond so that I could move in. They arranged amazing help and support with a support worker from the Supporting People
Housing Support who was really helpful when I first moved in. I moved into my flat on the 15th September 2008, since when I have managed to completely repay my bond while also keeping myself and my flat in good order. I have managed to put on weight and I look so much healthier and feel much better
than I used to. I have not used hard drugs since I entered GROW and I am fully convinced that I will never use them again as long as I live.

I owe my present state and circumstances to GROW and I could never repay them for all that they have done for me, helped me with, and shown me. I thank all the staff at GROW from the bottom of my heart. I still return and visit but not so often now, and I always know that there is a warm welcome and a
Sunday roast lunch for me if I want or need it.

Finally, I have now developed a good relationship with my parents who now trust me implicitly even to the extent that they have recently given me my own front door key to the family home where I was kicked out all those years ago.