I started using cannabis at the age of 14. I didn’t have my Mum or Dad around for guidance and had to make my own decisions – cannabis was my ticket to being accepted by other people. I ended up having an addiction for 26 years, through using cannabis and Class A drugs. I also developed mental health problems and was diagnosed as bi-polar. My rock-bottom was at the age of 39 when I ended up in hospital again, with a punctured lung, having being beaten up by a drug dealer. I’d had enough.
My recovery started with a stay in a rehab in Nottingham, during which time I had an assessment with Double Impact. Whilst at Double Impact I completed several short courses and became a volunteer, helping staff to deliver group sessions. I also underwent treatment for Hepatitis C, which has been successful and I am now clear of the disease. My next goal was to do a course in professional cookery at college. Once I had started this, they told me about the volunteering opportunities at their social enterprise, Café Sobar and encouraged me to apply. I worked as a volunteer trainee assistant chef for 6 months, prepping and cooking food. It was brilliant – I really enjoyed it. Then I got paid part-time work for them! I’m not in it for the money – it’s the satisfaction of knowing that people have enjoyed the food I’ve prepared.
I’m now doing an NVQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery and have a work experience placement at one of the best restaurants in Nottingham. I hope to go on and find full-time work in an established restaurant and maybe even set up my own business in time.
My work as a chef has given me a life, it’s given me a purpose. I’ve not had many opportunities in my life, but I’ve been given this chance to turn things around and I’m not going to waste it. Thank you to all the staff – if it wasn’t for them and for this project I don’t know where I’d be – probably 6 feet under.