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The Real Lochaber Hope from the real people

All the people below have agreed for their story to be told, however we have changed the names to protect their identity, in some cases you may recognise the person, so it’s important to know that they have given permission.

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Peter: loves woodwork, he is knowledgeable, skilled, creative and he’s great craic!  He is now a major part of Lochaber Hope and has orders for bird houses, bird boxes and wooden items that he alone has identified the market for. The week before we closed for the festive season holidays he had seven orders for products and was hard pushed to complete, but he did. Peter lives his life in a wheelchair with the emphasis on ’he lives his life’. One of our (volunteer) Duty Managers has threatened to slash his tyres if we have any more of his cheek! Peter loves this place and this place loves him, we are hoping he is going to sit on our Governance Team now, because he knows what is going on!!

Rosemary: recently took part in a Highland Lives is Working initiative with Lochaber College this was created and funded by Highland Employers Coalition. Rosemary has been round the circuit of ‘back to work initiatives’ and has gathered armfuls of ideas and recognised a multitude of skills but needs to put them to use. Rosemary is one of a group of people who are filming, editing and producing a movie about Lochaber Hope, from the seed that started it, the history of it, the beginning, to the ‘now’ stage and will continue this.
Bob: is nearly 80 years old and has a marvelous way with words; he has strong opinions and has felt unheard for so long; he was almost giving up when he came to us but he is now not just being heard but his voice has a channel now - he is responsible for the overall editing and is the boss of this project. He drives 63 miles to be with us regularly. We need a few more people to take some roles in this project, filming, editing, writing, debating, organising.

Brian: his own personal journey has given Brian insight to the kind of damage we do to ourselves through guilt, beating ourselves up, searching for answers. Brian was told about us by Lochaber College and the Shirlie Project; he is working with us and can train people in the life skills centre, helping people to recognise just that, their life skills, and how everyone has so much to offer and that there are consequences to all our actions. Brian is developing a personal development programme that has never been done before; he will be working with people to help them recognise the results of actions and how we can make headway in making changes through gaining an understanding of the rippling effect of our actions and how that can be channelled to being positive, effective or is it affective members of our families and our community.
Carol: was a heroin addict for 14 years. When I asked Carol to check this out and give me her permission, she added “if by reading this it helps one family, that’s a great start, I didn’t know that that night my life as I knew it was over. I just ask that people think before going down the road to hell what they are about to lose, for that one wee buzz, (which incidentally never returns) will in turn take your soul, your friends, family, possessions, freedom and your dignity and make you a slave to poppy seed waste, and in the end to dig your own grave for little brown grains, think again”.

Carol was referred to Lochaber Hope (then Pathways to Employment) by NCH over 2 years ago. Carol plunged herself into STRADA drug and alcohol training and she was able to give so much insight into what life as an addict is really like in Fort William as anywhere. She quietly gave support to peers while embarking on courses such as ‘suicide intervention’, ‘negotiating health and behaviour changes’, ‘motivational interviewing’, ‘STRADA modules ‘till they were coming out of her ears! Carol started a ‘Chat Time’ an hour a week allowing people with drug addictions another place to talk, be supported and help other people too. Carol has been a qualified mentor with Lochaber Hope for 2 years now and is now senior mentor. Carol now is responsible for organising the running of the HOPE drop in centre, she is continuing training to be a trainer herself, she attends Lochaber meetings and assists decision making based on her knowledge of how difficult it is to get free of the addiction, the guilt and the pain of past mistakes. Carol understands, and she shares this understanding with others who need to be heard and understood.

There is one more person I would like to tell you about; this person is a He, and that is all he will be known as for now. He was a client of Pathways to Employment and He helped start Pathways to Recovery (a self help client sub group). While this sub group or user group were putting together an evaluation of Pathways, He said to me

Start QuoteIt’s the control, it’s losing the control of your life that is the hardest thing, once you’ve allowed the power to be taken from you, you’re life becomes out of control, out of your control, usually the first point of contact for an addict is the GP, the GP then decides what is best for you, when that happened to me, I gave over control of my life to someone else, initially my GP, who incidentally was a great supportive GP, that led to other people, and although in my state of need I was unable to control myself, it was the one thing I desired most, was to be in control of my own life, I got lucky, through Pathways I got control back, even when the medics said I should do this do that, I agreed, so I was in control with them. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy as it sounds, I relapsed, hence the ‘He’ I got to stage of almost madness, it was that same GP who got in touch with Lochaber Hope and said ‘help’ and they did. I am clean again, yesterday I said “ I am on top of the world, a have a few minor downs, but I’m coping, I have the help of a great CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) I get so nervous going but I love it, I’m going to be ok!End Quote

This is an insight to real people and He is a real person, I need you to notice here the other agencies and service providers involved in all of the above.

Most people have a variety of needs, if they only had one or two they would most likely be able to control that and seek that help themselves as millions of people do. Most of that help comes from family, friends and the natural network of people round about them, but sometimes the most vulnerable amongst us don’t see it until it is too late, the problem has grabbed them and taken them under, and they lose control, power over themselves.

Lochaber has a good reputation of working together, but we have to build on that, the person does not care WHO helps as long as there is help. We NEED to work together, read the above again, look at who else was involved, Lochaber Hope has the ability and resources to engage with and hold people, in many cases just a little direction is needed and the service the person engages with can do this, but there are people like you and me and my brother and your mum or my daughter and your son, my husband or your wife, some people need more. Lochaber Hope aims to engage and hold people and work closely with other agencies so that they are there for them when it’s time.

Lochaber Hope is the peoples project; it has been built by volunteers; everything in the centre has been donated, all the work has been done by volunteers from this community, together we have not only built walls but friendships too, this is not always easy, we have had our own teething problems and growing pains but have and will continue to work through them and solve them together. It not only makes us stronger but makes us able, by supporting each other through experiences we learn to handle the difficulties, manage them and even embrace the hardest challenges and get the power back that leads us inevitably to be in control of our own lives and our own future.
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