I smoked my first joint when I was sixteen. By the time I was nineteen I was addicted to heroin. That addiction to opiates stayed with me, every single day until I was forty-three. I finally went into treatment for two reasons. Firstly, I knew in my bones I only had a year or two left before it killed me. Secondly, I wanted to know what it was like not to be addicted to drugs. I had been stoned for so long I could no longer remember.

My life changed in rehab when I realised there might be a reason for my addiction. I had always assumed there was something wrong with me. That I was simply a bad person, a waste of space. Shining a light onto my childhood joined up the dots. How can you possibly value yourself when you believe in your bones that nobody else ever had any use for you? It made perfect sense. After all, heroin is the greatest emotional anaesthetic known to mankind – why would I not fall in love with a drug that fixed all the broken bits inside and numbed the pain, the rage? Learning what had shaped me allowed to believe, for the first time, that it was possible to change – and I did.

In 2004 I flew to Spain for a detox in a private hospital. On returning to London I became a client of my local treatment service at the Portobello Project, and from there went into residential rehabilitation for three months. My entry into the world of service user involvement was accidental, and was to change my live and those of a great many others. For once in my life I was in the right time at the right place. I have been in recovery from January 2004 to date.

Weekends killed me in early recovery. No family to speak of. Very few non-using friends. No money. Nowhere to go. I tried meetings, but they didn't agree with me, and I was tired of talking about my addiction and my past. Build on Belief was founded on the simplest of ideas. If there is nowhere for people like us at the weekend we're just going to have to do it ourselves, and all as Joe Cocker said, 'with a little help from my friends.'

Build on Belief (BoB) is a weekend service for people struggling with or recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.  We believe anyone can recover from substance issues.  We deal with people from the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and we help them along their recovery journey. Our unique team have been supporting tens of thousands of people in London since 2005.

Build on Belief is a registered charity that was designed, implemented, and is run by people with lived experience of addiction. Everyone who works for Build on Belief volunteered for it first. We believe recovery from addiction is possible for everyone; that it is a personal journey, and that the path being walked can only be chosen by the person doing the walking. We run weekend services in eight London boroughs that are intended to be safe, social spaces, open when everyone else is closed, and free to use. These are befriending and support services, manned by teams of volunteers, all of whom have had their own problems in the past. We feed and listen to people, throw a metaphorical arm around the shoulders, and ask what we can do to help. Each service has a range of activities, from music workshops to mindfulness classes, gardening clubs to art groups.