My name’s Barry.  I left school in 1978 with my GCSE’s.

My Substance use started going to clubs underage and would carry onto the next day at Football. We used to have a bit of the ‘Marching Powder’ as we got onto the Coach/Train to the match.

Not that we saw the match, it’s so hard to concentrate when you’ve got skin heads baying for your blood.

I never got into heroin because I’m scared of needles. I would never even have anaesthetic when I was getting stitched up. I was into Crack, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Acid, Weed and Alcohol to absorb blows that were raining down on me at matchday.

I came out of Prison after 5 years and 6 months and decided to change. Probation warned me I would be recalled if I hung about with my old crew. In prison I worked for the St Giles Trust helping inmates to relocate and prepare them for release. On my way to the St Giles Trust I noticed that I was being followed by the ‘Old Bill’. This gave me more reason to change. 

St Giles led me to BOB.  During my interview I could sense that they were a bit doubtful about being in such a small room with me. The first few months was a nightmare for me I struggled to get up in the mornings. Volunteering made me feel part of something good for a change and I was also able to help people with their substance use.

One highlight was receiving an award at their volunteer award ceremony which I was very proud to show to my mother. She was so happy.

The thing that attracted me to BOB was the words - IF I CAN DO IT? YOU CAN DO IT! This came from someone I had previously smoked Crack with back in the day now employed by Bob.  Most of the staff were previously volunteers. I tell all of our volunteers that if they are prepared to put the work in, we will help and support them.

BOB accepted me, trained me up as a volunteer and then finally employed me as one of their managers. It has been the most fulfilling part of my life and fixed all of the uncertain feelings that no one would actually want to employ me. BOB is like the Family I never knew and has always been there for me. I’m so proud to be part of it all.

I’m 22 years clean now and I love working for this wonderful charity.