Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Looking back on her life, 45-year-old Adele (not her real name) says that drugs almost destroyed her. “I wish I’d never had that first fix,” she says, as she reflects on the last three decades and the chaos her habit has caused.
As a teenager, Adele spent weeks at a time sleeping rough. She didn’t feel safe or cared for at home and often needed to escape. That’s when her drug-taking began. To fund her habit, she became a sex worker and would often steal to get drugs. This led to a number of convictions, with Adele spending time in prison for violent robbery.
While she was serving her sentence, Adele found out she was pregnant with her first child. The drugs, sex work and criminal activity continued for years. And she was often homeless, either sleeping rough, sofa surfing or living in temporary accommodation.
It wasn’t until Adele met her Greater Manchester Housing First (GMHF) support worker, Kate Wilde, in September 2019 that things started to change. Adele was being supported by MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health).
By this time, Adele had three children who were living with her ex-partner. He was also using class A drugs and social services were involved.
“Adele had approached local support services for help in the past,” said Kate. “As she was living in a hostel, it was easier for me to meet with her regularly. Gradually, she grew to trust me and her main goal was to get a home of her own and look after her children.”
Adele was offered a flat, which she liked. It needed furnishing so Kate helped her look for furniture online and went with her to choose a sofa.
“Adele enjoyed picking out furniture and phoned her children to tell them how she planned to decorate her new home,” adds Kate.
Next, Kate was keen to help Adele with her drug problem. They met with Adele’s drug support worker at CGL (Change Grow Live) and Adele agreed to take a ‘harm reduction approach’. This would mean switching to prescribed methadone as a step towards being drug-free in the future.
Since moving into her new flat, Adele’s life has become much more settled. She is claiming the benefits she’s entitled to and has welcomed her children back to live with her.
Adele says that being with her children means everything. “All I want to do is support my kids and stop them going through the things I did,” she says. “I want to give them a good future and be someone they can look up to. I’d love to go to college and do my GCSEs, and maybe do a course on addiction.
“GMHF has supported me in ways no-one else has. They have been with me every step of the way, through good times and bad. Without them, my kids would now be in care as social services were about to step in and remove them from my ex-partner. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”