This story is part of the Peer Power series – a photographic collaboration between professional photographer Jeff Hubbard and Peer Advisors. Earlier this year (2022) they worked together to portray their stories in photographic and written form. Each one is unique but all highlight the true value of harnessing people’s lived experience of adversity to become a force for good.
My story starts many years back, but I’m not going to delve that far into the past. Just briefly say that I was mixed up into drugs and alcohol and spent time in prison.
I will start on the positive side of things when my life changed for the better
After many years of being in and out of work, doing mainly Pubs and catering, Covid hit, which was basically my life saver. I got caught pregnant, and I really needed to change my life for the better and look for a future for both myself and my son. Although I had already stopped partaking in recreational drug use, and drank very little, and any hard drugs were a thing of the past. I knew my son was the most important little thing in the world, and he only had me to protect him.
During my pregnancy, I had a lot of battles to overcome. Both myself and his dad have severe mental health problems, so not only did I have my own bipolar to overcome, I had to make sure he was ok. Who was quite poorly at the time. I asked for help with his worker, but It was some time before he got help, and each time I rang she just put referral after referral in, to social services, and they told me to continue safeguarding my son. So that’s exactly what I did. I stopped ringing his CPN worker. It made me realise that it’s no wonder people go so long without help, and if I was a young girl who thought for a second that my child may be at risk of being taken, i wouldn’t ask for help either. The system is flawed, and that’s why I love working for St Giles, as having life experience really helps people relax, so you can get straight to helping
My son’s dad at this point had stopped taking his meds, and my son was here, so to safeguard my child, I had to have proof of that, so every time he came round, I just rang the police. He was never physically violent, but he was making my life hell, and at this point had escaped from the mental health ward and threatening to take my son away from me. This is where DASU (domestic abuse service) come into things, and I scored high on their MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) questions, so again, had to carry on calling the police. He was then admitted back to hospital after his friend set him up with the police, and he was caught, so my life dramatically changed again, and this time I wanted to move forward and DASU put me in touch with communities first.
Julia is the most supportive worker I had ever met; she listened to everything and knew straight away that she had the right agency for me. That being the St Giles trust
I met with Lisa Owens after a few phone calls. After meeting Lisa and Annie, I knew I wanted to be a part of St Giles, and I knew that I wanted to do my NVQ. Lisa secured me a placement, and between her and Julia, they sorted childcare out for me, getting funding and making sure that was a priority.
I started with the Merseyside project, who all do a fantastic job. But I have since moved over to the peer hub, as I wanted to support people doing what I was doing in that moment. I am hoping to get a full-time job with them, however there is so many options available in the St Giles Trust, that I know I will be with them for many years, and that their whole outlook is a cut above the rest. They take lived experience and use it to their advantage. Everyone I have been involved with has a story to tell, and they are remarkable. They really do turn your past into a future
Anyone looking into working with this outstanding trust, just do it, you won’t regret a single second of it. I love being involved with them, it works around my home life, and I get to help people in similar situations I’ve had throughout childhood and early adult life