Spring of Hope: *Jayne’s story
Only a year ago, Jayne was street homeless and sofa surfing; a chronic alcoholic and drug user, who sold herself for sex to pay for alcohol. She was near the end and without hope. But then she found Spring of Hope. The difference that Spring of Hope and a new found faith in God have made to her life is nothing short of a miracle! Read this amazing story in Jayne’s own words.
“I came from a big family; four older brothers and a younger sister. I was born in Scotland but moved to England when I was young. I grew up in a normal household. Everyone worked. That was the family conscience; a working class family. Mum was a ward clerk, Dad was a miner and my brothers worked in the pits. We weren’t bad off.
Alcohol was in the house and whiskey was seen as medicine and a remedy to a lot of things. I reckon I had my first drink when I was 13. I was violently sick, but I got this freedom from drink; it was confidence. When I was about 16, my Mum pulled me aside. She asked me what was up with me because I was sneaking out and drinking down the park. From 16 to 18, I kept sneaking into nightclubs and drinking. I had many boyfriends and I was doing all the things you shouldn’t be doing.
Becoming a Mum
I had a long term relationship when I was about 19, with the Father of my first son, who I had at 21. Mum and Dad knew there was something wrong with my behaviour and so I stayed at their house with my son. The deal was that I went to work and my parents would pick up my son from nursery. But this was a free ticket for me to go out because I had free babysitters, so I didn’t leave home until I was 32.
A turn for the worse
Then I met a guy and settled down with him but this guy was different. This guy was not very nice. All my friends told me about him but I stuck with him. He did a lot of drugs and there was a lot of drink coming into the house. I had my second son with him.
I didn’t think I was an alcoholic but the drinking increased. My partner would work a lot and I was left at home with the baby. I started secret drinking. Then I found out I was pregnant again and I had my daughter. Within two years of having my daughter my Father died, which had a massive effect on me. My drinking just span out of control. I completely lost the plot. I’m not blaming my Dad for that; I was uncontrollable. My family disintegrated. Me and my partner split up. He went to his parent’s and not long after the kids followed because I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t look after myself let alone them. I had to give up the family home and then I just went wondering around this country for years.
Rock bottom in Bristol
I ended up in Bristol. Drugs 24/7, drink 24/7, everything was available and I did it. I tried recovery a couple of times with various agencies but it didn’t work for me. I met a guy in a hostel and we had a relationship. We were both alcoholics. I lost him 4 and half years ago now. He committed suicide because of the drinking and depression, but I still didn’t stop drinking and I started to use crack as well. Alcohol was my gateway to crack. If alcohol had stopped working for me I’d go find a crack house. It was the alcohol first and then the crack, just to get me that little bit higher. There was a bit of heroin use as well but I never liked it. I was sick every time. My body was breaking down quickly. I was about 50 then. I’m 55 now. From being a Mum, I was out in the madness for 10 years.
Last year was my rock bottom. I lost it in a bedsit in Easton. It was vile. It was filthy. It was squalid. I was doing low end prostitution for drink; that’s how desperate it had become. The landlord evicted me because my benefits changed to universal credit but there was a delay and then bang, I was street homeless.
Light in the darkness
I was out on the streets during the day. It was so cold; I’ll never forget it. I was too old and I knew I was at my end. Someone mentioned Spring of Hope to me. So I started staying at the ‘The Spring’ as well as sofa surfing. Val (Spring of Hope Manager) told me that “the council have a duty of care with you,” but I was that messed up, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was drinking very heavily. A bottle of whiskey a day. Eventually, I started using Spring of Hope every day. Something clicked with me there. I kept coming back and coming back. I just found it safe to stay; welcome, clean, and a warm place to be. And they were really supportive to me; Val and Trudy and everyone. They were just great with me from the start. I felt a connection there. I stayed there and got a referral to ARA (Addiction Recovery Agency), and got into a prep house.
A miracle from God
My life’s completely changed now. When I’d lost my partner years before, I’d gone into a church to pray. One day, I remember walking past that church again and I said to God, “God, I’m not ready to come in there yet, it’s not my time” and he said, “oh yes you are, it’s time now. You are ready to come in and you are getting your life back!” I’m getting emotional because I’ve been given a second chance. It’s a miracle. I didn’t even have to go through detox because of God. I was the first one at the door of the doctors for detox but for three days solid I had a spiritual awakening and on the third day after being in the prep house, God took all the power of addiction away from me. I just fell on my knees and begged for his help and that was it, DONE! You’ve got to remember I was a chronic alcoholic. I didn’t have a tablet, I didn’t have anything. I just had the power of God and that’s the truth. From that day forward I stuck with it, went to AA meetings regularly and gave up the drink. I can look back and say it was the biggest turning point in my life ever!
Finding safety and belonging in church community
I go to church every Sunday and I got baptised earlier this year. I pray to the Lord Jesus every night and he’s surrounded me with nothing but love. People in the church have been really kind and gracious to me, especially the vicar and his wife, and the curate. I’ve been really supported. Anything they can do to help me, they have done it, no questions asked. They’ve not judged me and I feel safe there. I couldn’t do without my faith and church. Church isn’t just a place for me, it’s the people. I love the people there and I now have some very dear friends for life, who have been my guiding stars (they know who they are).
I’m working in the NHS now. I was street homeless only a year ago! This can only be the Lord. So many things have happened to me that you just couldn’t explain. I sit here now and I think, “”I haven’t had one reference for this job.”” At work I wonder, “”how have I ended up here?!”” They don’t know I’m in recovery and I think “”if only you knew!”” Honestly, it’s just unthinkable. By the grace of God, he’s put me where he wants me to be; where I should have been a long time ago if it wasn’t for the drink and the drugs that took me away from life. But you know, live is different now. I have loads of hope because I think, ““where am I gonna be in another year?!”” It’s exciting!
I live in a beautiful shared house. It’s not my forever home but it’s a stepping stone to where I want to be. My cupboards are never empty. Just to be warm, housed, to have a job, and have some sanity in my life; that’s enough for me at the moment. God has given me choice that I never thought I’d have in my life again with regards to where I live, what I do, everything. Sometimes it’s just that little bit of hope. Hope is the biggest thing.
Obviously, I want to rebuild my family connections but there’s been a lot of damage done over the years, so that’s going to be tough but it’s all in God’s timing. I get a bit angry with God sometimes because he’s always 4-6 weeks behind me! But he gives me what I need, not what I want and that’s a learning curve for me.
I have to maintain my recovery by looking after myself and going to recovery groups regularly. Recovery isn’t for free; you have to work at it.
Jayne’s final word goes to Spring of Hope
They help so many women and just don’t realise it. Sometimes I think it goes under the radar a bit too much. They are the first port of call for desperate women in the city. And women from all walks of life not just street homeless; it could be mental health, religion, FGM, it could be anything. Things that go on in the city are heart breaking and sometimes I think I got off lightly.”
*name changed for anonymity.