I suffered domestic violence over a ten-year period at the hands of my partner, the father of my youngest three children. He used to drink heavily and take out his aggression on me. Because of this I smoked a lot of cannabis, which I felt was the only way I could cope with the violence. As a result of the drink, drugs and violence at home, my children were put on the at-risk register. I realised that the situation could even cause me to lose my children, so within 18 months I left my partner, reduced the amount of cannabis I smoked and accepted support from organisations such as Sure Start, Family Intervention and Social Services.
However, due to everything that had happened, I fell into depression and found it difficult to get out of it. A friend recommended the Freedom Project to me, as he thought it would be good for me to get out of the house and do something with my time. I was a nervous wreck at first, scared about interacting with other people and speaking to customers. I thought I wouldn’t stay for more than a few days, but I’m glad to say I proved myself wrong.
Before I started volunteering, I only ever left the house to take my children to school or go to the shops. I felt depressed, and my relationship with my children wasn’t great because I wasn’t doing anything for myself. Now I have more motivation than ever before: I am volunteering four mornings a week and I also help with the soup run on Friday nights. My relationship with my children has improved immensely thanks to doing something for myself. This not only makes me happy, it also rubs off on the kids.
As I have become more confident and have started saying yes to things, I can see a fuller life ahead of me. I’ve stopped using cannabis altogether and on top of all this I’ve made lots of new friends from Mustard Tree. I not only socialise with them, but I’m able to involve my children in that too.