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My name is Daniel and I am an ex offender and have spent time in a rehab due to my drinking. I am currently a Peer Support Worker employed by Red Rose Recovery. Soon I will be moving on to become a Release Engagement Practitioner with the NHS. I would like to tell you about my experiences and how Red Rose Recovery supported me in making this transformation.

I was in a young offenders institute by the time I was 17 years old and began drinking and taking drugs in my teens. My 20s included long periods of unemployment and heavy drinking/ substance misuse. I received numerous convictions and prison sentences related to this. I realise now that I was also suffering with mental health problems also. At the time I could see no way out and came to accept that this is what my life looked like and would continue to do so.

Becoming a father in my early 30s and with the support of my partner I reached out for help to address my drinking. I spent 3 months in a rehab and began to really understand myself and how I had got to this stage. This is where the fight back began and I started to rebuild my life. On leaving rehab I managed to get a part time office job. With renewed hope and optimism I enrolled on a degree course as my ambition began to return. After 3 years I now hold a Foundation Degree in Alcohol and Substance Misuse Work and I have a BA Hons in Health and Applied Social Studies. Still though I worried about how my past would affect my chances of employment. That is when I saw a job advertisement from Red Rose Recovery which was asking for people with lived experience of the Criminal Justice System, Substance misuse or mental health struggles. These were all things which I had experience of and I saw the chance to turn these perceived negative experiences into something positive.

I was lucky enough to have been employed and started working with and supporting people who had been arrested. The role of the Peer Support Worker allows you to draw upon your past in order to help people who are currently struggling with all manner of problems such as drink, drugs and mental health. This is a very enjoyable and rewarding job. We work alongside the NHS Liaison and Diversion Service who are based in Police Stations and Courts. As a Peer Support Worker you are supported by both Red Rose Recovery and the Liaison and Diversion Service. The experience has given me confidence and for me it has played a huge part in turning my situation around. People like myself who have a past can flourish and the opportunity which was given to me by Red Rose Recovery has played a pivotal part in the continued rebuilding of my life. With their support I am now about to embark on a new chapter, working in Prisons and with Prison Leavers. Helping and supporting people who are currently experiencing similar issues to the ones which I once faced.