Kate, 35, was a successful primary school teacher but when both her parents died 18 months apart she was left devastated and struggling to cope. Her life began to spiral out of control when she began using Class A drugs.
Kate had moved to London for work in 2016 and was away from long-term friends and the rest of her family. She met a man on Tinder and it was with him she started experimenting with drugs. The relationship was destructive in many ways. Kate said, “I was dating the guy and the day after my Mum’s funeral he called things off.”
In an attempt to regain control, Kate moved from London back to her home town, but she was still using drugs.
“It got to the point where I was using Class A drugs daily, on my own. You just lie about it and it becomes destructive in your life…. Then it came to a head. I became unable to hold down a job, any job, certainly not teaching.
“I was going back and forth to London picking up drugs twice a week. I was unable to pay my rent and I forgot how to behave as an adult. I was thrown out of my flat.”
Just before Kate was thrown out of the house she was renting in Swindon, she ended up in hospital. The drugs she was injecting had messed with her mind.
“I was seeing my Mum’s face on other people. I was in such bad psychosis.”
Kate managed to find somewhere to stay for the weekend but was then homeless. She was directed to the Salvation Army’s Booth House in Swindon. A room was free and so she could move straight in.
Kate told us, “Since I’ve been here, it’s saved my life. It’s unbelievable. Being here and being around people socially is great as being on my own is difficult for me. The support you get here is amazing.”
Kate explained that the staff at Booth House really know what they’re doing and this has made a big difference to her. “Before I came here I was being told by specialist drug services that they hadn’t heard of the drugs that I was using. They were having to Google how to deal with them.
“It’s so valuable here being around support networks and people. I don’t want to sit around doing nothing, that’s a big trigger [to take drugs] for me. Since getting involved in Recycles and the Sandwich People I haven’t looked back. It’s so important being part of that team.”
Kate said that before she came to Booth House she had hit rock bottom. “I was unable to walk into an office and have any confidence that I could do the job. Any confidence I had had crumbled. The guy I was seeing had kept telling me I wasn’t intelligent and couldn’t do anything.
“When I came here I saw and heard stories about others who had been where I was and had come out the other side. Seeing them, I saw I would be able to achieve something again. I was in SLT (in school) and doing brilliantly and it just got pulled out from under me.”
Kate told us that she couldn’t believe how quickly her life slipped away from her. “Before I knew it, I was injecting meth every day. I feel like I lost 5 years of my life. Weeks and then months just flew by.”
Kate is now rebuilding her relationship with her brother. He stopped talking to her as he was so upset by her drug use and behaviour.
Kate said that one of the most encouraging things about Booth House is how understanding and sympathetic everyone is. She said, “People don’t expect perfection here and for so long I was trying to be perfect and kept up the façade of being a person who can do everything. Now everyone knows everything. Everyone here is fighting their own battles.”
Kate is now training for a triathlon and will run the London Triathlon in 2020 to raise money for the Salvation Army. She is also part of the Booth House fundraising team taking part in the Prudential Ride 100. She knows that her struggle is not over but is optimistic for the future. “It’s always going to be hard and I’m always going to be someone who struggles with addiction. It’s just learning how to deal with it.”