I will beat the bullies

The other week I stopped a bloke from throwing himself in the River
Thames. I didn’t know him but I could see what he was up to. I’ve
been in the same situation myself. We had a chat and it turned out
he was in rent arrears. So I took him to the rent office and asked
them to sort him out. I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to
themselves. There’s always an answer; sometimes you need a bit of
help finding it.

I used to be a happy soul. I had a job on the Underground and a
place of my own but I lost it all because of drugs. People say drug
addiction is an illness but it’s not. It’s a cry for help. All my
life I’ve been pushed around and rejected. I was bullied every day
at school. They used to send me to the back of the class and call
me “dunce”. I ended up in borstal and that was far worse because
they sent me to a hospital where one of the staff sexually
assaulted me. When you’re taking drugs it’s like you’re punishing
yourself. The last time I took crack was at Christmas when I was
all alone.

I live in supported housing now with Carr-Gomm. It’s a shared house
so I mix with other people but I have my own kitchen and I can cook
whenever I want. When I first moved in, they showed me around this
skills centre called Cafe Orange. I kept tutting under my breath
because I thought they were being a bit pushy. They asked me if I
wanted to do a course working in the kitchen. I didn’t really fancy
it but I gave it a go. When I first started I was very nervous and
I didn’t talk to anyone, but I’m glad I did it. I used to bung
meals in the microwave; now I can cook them all from scratch. I buy
fresh veg from the market and maybe make a nice soup. When it comes
out right you feel like you’ve really achieved something.

I’m doing a bit of voluntary work helping the senior citizens at
the local missionary centre. I make tea, cook meals and give them a
hand with the transport. When I’m feeling glum I have a bit of a
singsong with the old girls and it makes me feel better. Work
experience is important because it helps to build your confidence.
When you start a new job you’re frightened that you might get
everything wrong and I don’t want to do that.

There’s a greasy spoon caf’ near where I go to work. The owner says
he’ll give me a job when I get a place of my own. I’ve got my
certificates in food hygiene and customer care but I’m not ready
yet. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself or you might go
downhill again.

I like having one-to-ones with my project worker and doing classes
at the cafe. It all keeps you moving up the ladder. I’ll know when
I’ve reached the top because I’ll be doing everything for myself
and have a space of my own again. I’ve got a brain and I want to
use it. I want to prove the bullies wrong. I know I can do it; I
just need a bit of help.

Terry Millett is a supported housing tenant with Carr-Gomm
and a trainee at the Cafe Orange skills centre and community

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