For much of my adult life I lived in poverty on the fringes of homelessness in Cork. Things came to a head in 2003, following a drinking session in my flat in which I sustained serious injuries.The landlord told me I had to go.
At the time I was on probation and my probation officer suggested I move to Tralee to Novas’ services there. I needed to move from Cork, so was happy to go. In the past, I had overdosed on many occasions, physically injured myself, got in fights and was in two serious car crashes, puncturing my brain. Things had to change.
I moved to Arlington Lodge, where I stayed for three and a half months. I got great help from the staff there and I ended up going to Liverpool playing soccer for the homeless. However things didn’t work out for me there and I ended up moving to Bridgeland House in Limerick.
I loved it in Bridgeland. I got on well with all the residents and staff. At the beginning I drank there every day and ended up making another nuisance of myself. I also dabbled in drugs which resulted in me getting in trouble with the court services again. I felt that things were going really badly for me.
The staff were so supportive and arranged a month’s respite for me. After my return, I managed to abstain from drink and drugs and moved to smaller accommodation in which you were not allowed to drink. At the same time I started doing some voluntary work in Bridgeland House, cleaning and cooking mostly. I did that for over a year. It kept me busy and sober. I felt really good after a day’s work, it gave me confidence. I was so grateful that management had offered me a chance.
A position for locum work arose and I applied. I was offered a job and did this for over a year. A night safety attendant job then became available. I got this job and was absolutely delighted. I’ve been in this job now for three years. I love my job, working with residents. With what I’ve been through and the help that I’ve gotten, I like giving something back. I’m living in my own flat now. I never thought I’d see the day when I could be living on my own. Before, I couldn’t sit in my own space; I had to have drink or drugs. Now I don’t even think of that.
I got more help from Novas than any other place I’ve ever been. People listened to me when I was having bad days. No one ever judged me. The amount of chances I got from Novas are more than I ever got anywhere else in my life. I think that only for Novas I wouldn’t be alive and well and I wouldn’t be where I am today.