Paul’s Story – Bethany Housing Support
I was born and brought up in Stirling. My Dad worked on building sites, and he worked hard and drank even harder. My mum worked hard too, but her world revolved around her children. We meant the world to her and we still do.
My early years were happy until a fateful day in 1980 that shaped much of my life. My brother Scott died tragically. I’ve replayed that day in my mind countless times. I was 5 years old and could not make sense of what had happened. For my parents it was too much to take. Their relationship did not survive my brother’s death and they divorced soon after.
I had my first drink at age 10, and I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. By the age of 14, drugs and alcohol had taken over my life. I dropped out of school and got drunk and high on drugs instead. I lived with so many unanswered questions. Why had my brother died? Why had my parents split up? Why did this happen to us, to me?
I was blaming myself for a lot of things. So I numbed the pain, the guilt and shame with drugs and alcohol. I also joined a gang. Between the ages of 16 and 22 prison had become a revolving door. My heroin addiction meant that criminality was the norm. Drug dealing, robbing, thieving, I would have done anything to get the money I needed to pay for drugs.
Deep down though, I knew that what I really longed for was a life worth living. I knew I needed to turn my life around but I didn’t know how. I moved to Dumfries and managed to get accepted in a rehab based on Christian values. The people there were never forceful about their beliefs. That intrigued me. I started asking God to help me in my recovery and saw my prayers being answered.
When I was ready to move on I was introduced to Mike Pudsey the Manager of Bethany Housing Support in Dumfries. With the help of Mike and of Bethany staff, I learned invaluable life skills. I learned to manage my money, to fill my time constructively.
I joined a church community and for the first time I felt confident that a life of meaning and purpose was within reach. I felt I had been given a fresh start.
I left school with no qualifications. I am now going through an SVQ level 3 in social health. I started working for Bethany as a Drop-in Coordinator and earlier this year I became a Support Worker. I have the privilege of sharing my story with people who need to know that there is hope on the other side of their pain.
Looking back I can say that I now live a life worth living. I am a husband, and a father. I can look people in the face without shame.
Paul, person who used Bethany Housing Support
*This individual’s name has been changed to protect his identity.