Clare says she used to blame society and everybody else for her life that had become chaotic. She had come from a dysfunctional family where her mum as a single parent had done her best but her efforts were Clare brown Croppedoften hampered by alcohol. As she knew no different Clare got involved in criminal activity at a very early age. This led to 25 years of going in and out of prison, the abandonment of her children and an addiction where she used substances to change the way she felt. She knows that she was in denial about her real state and the causes but always wanted to change without knowing how this could be done. She reached out to GMCC and met Marlene whilst in prison who was there doing link work. She says that Marlene never lost faith in her and would visit her each time she ended up back in prison. Knowing that someone cared in this way and would not give up on her but keep supporting her and praying for her mattered a lot. Clare eventually did a RAMP course which was facilitated by someone who had been where she was and experienced the same kind of things and this gave her hope. Later Marlene and her husband attended her graduation when she had completed the programme with Acorn Recovery Projects. She describes herself as still in recovery but is now a productive member of society who has a conscience having ceased all criminal activity. She did a computer course at GMCC which really helped as she had no previous knowledge or experience. She volunteered for a while and now has a paid role with Emerging Futures and has a real passion to help others who need to know the kind of change she has experienced. She can see in them the fear, denial and lack of hope that she knows only too well and can deal with them with empathy knowing they can change. She is also aware of the need to maintain proper boundaries as the danger is always there of a lifestyle that does not let go easily. Clare says that she now has friends and not just associates and she has people around her that she can trust. Previously access to her children was very limited but she can now see them whenever she wants and a major goal she is working towards is having them living with her. She faces challenges in the work she now does but perhaps the biggest challenge of all is to carry on living each day the new life she now has.


                                                                 David describes his past as chaotic. He had to fend for himself having been thrown out of his home aged 15. He did not want to be fostered as he knew no one would be able to handle him. His life then consisted of drugDavid H Croppeds, crime and violence which led to him spending 11 years out of 30 in prison but he just did not care. It was in prison that he met some of the volunteers from GMCC who also run Bible groups in HMP Manchester. Whilst in prison he suffered a vicious and violent attack that resulted in him spending time in the Health Care Centre. It was there that he built up a relationship with three of the men who each week led the group in that area. He got on really well with them and they told him about the work of GMCC on the outside. Once released, they kept in touch and he eventually went to live in Salford. From there he was able to get to the café in the centre of Manchester. Asked how he would describe his relationship with the volunteers he has got to know he said, “Proper, they don’t want anything off me, they just want good for me”.

He now feels much calmer and responsible. He has learned that reactions matter a lot. He has worked hard on learning how to cope in a world that is full of difficulties and problems. He believes that although others can help we have to take responsibility for ourselves. He says that looking back no one would have thought he would be involved with the kind of people he has met at GMCC and actually ringing them for a chat. He has done various online courses with us including the UK Online Basics and Level 2 Food Safety for Catering. He is also the first with us to complete the Level 3 Supervising Food Safety. These qualifications helped him in obtaining employment.


Asked to describe his life before the recent change Christopher replied immediately with one word, “stagnant”. He explained it as crime, jail and drug abuse. Drugs since the age of ten and jail since the age of 15 have left him looking back with feelings of disgust, shame and a large chunk of guilt. The fact he is feeling anything at all, however, is a clear sign he is moving forward, leaving that past behind, as he has been numb for so long. He is now learning to manage those feelings and put them to a positive use.
The last time he was arrested on recall he was taken to the police station and put in a cell. One of the arresting officers came to him a little later with a cup of coffee. This had happened before and may be because despite his history he always had respect for the police and they seemed to treat him accordingly. This time something else happened. He was offered help. The officer told him about a new organisation called Emerging Futures that would help him if he wanted to change and said he would make a referral if he agreed. Two weeks later Bobby came to see him in HMP Manchester. Christopher listened to his story of recovery and immediately connected with it. He was asked what he wanted and he said he would like Bobby to meet him at the Gate on his release. When the time came Bobby was there with Clare and they took him to the centre called The Ark.
There was the usual paperwork that no one enjoys and Probation to see but although it all felt daunting he recognised a couple of people now working there that he knew and this helped. Clare met him in the evening and took him to an NA meeting. It was his first ever. He had heard rumours of it being a religion or a cult full of happy clappers. He didn’t want to be there and sat at the back but as he listened to people sharing their stories he could relate to some of them. Here were people just like him. They had thought and acted like him but now they were clean or at least on the way. Curiosity took him back to hear more and now he can’t stay away and NA has had a massive impact on him.
Christopher is under no illusions. He says change is hard and addicts don’t like change. They would rather stay in a rut even when it is becoming a grave as change is uncomfortable and scary. Thinking what the future might hold is both terrifying and exciting at the same time. He would like to see a glimpse of himself in twelve months time and would love that picture to involve his daughter and grandchild back in his life, a steady job and simple things that everyone else would just call normal.
For now, despite the struggle and the hard things he faces each day, he is stubbornly determined to continue this new life he has begun and not to jeopardise all the progress he has made. He looks forward to the time he spends at GMCC as it is a nice environment that he regards as a place of peace where he can shut everything else out for a while.