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[ Personal Narratives ]

The Gift of Giving Back


WHEN David Brice enjoyed a few pints with workmates at weekends, little did he know it would become an addiction which nearly killed him.

Dave, now 41, started drinking at the age of 18, going out with mates.

“It started as a social thing,” he said. “I was going out with my mates at the weekends and having a few beers, but the drinking started to creep up on me.”

Dave, who was working as a cable engineer at the time, started off drinking around four cans of lager a night. But at the peak of his alcoholism he was drinking 250 units a week – more than 100 pints.

His drinking led to depression and Dave tried to take his own life on five occasions and his weight dropped to seven-and-a-half stone.

He saw his ten-year relationship with his partner fall apart, along with his relationship with his son.

Things started to change for Dave eight years ago when his mum Diane discovered Hartcliffe and Withywood Kick Start (Hawks) and took him along to some sessions.

“She even sat in with me on the sessions,” Dave said. “She had stood by me and tried to help me so many times over the years, but I carried on drinking. I was on benefits and drinking every day. I couldn’t eat as I couldn’t keep anything down.”

Following support from Hawks and Dave re-establishing his faith as a Jehovah’s Witness four years ago, he stopped drinking and has been dry for three years.

He started working as a volunteer for Hawks and undergoing training, completing an NVQ Level 3 in health and social care.

Dave, who lives alone at his one- bedroom flat in Bishopsworth, said: “Going to the one-to-one sessions helped me understand my drinking.

“Over the last three years, two as a volunteer, I have been on training courses about alcohol and drug misuse.”

Last year, after being supported by Hawks, the charity offered him a role as a recovery facilitator to help others battling with addiction.

“I’m here because of the support I received from Hawks,” said Dave.

“Whereas other employers would not have taken me on because I had no work history as such, Hawks gave me a chance.

“My life has completely changed.

“I am healthier, happier and my relationship with my son has improved. My life has completely turned around.”

Dave now hopes through his work as a recovery facilitator he will be able to support other people who are going through the same as him.

“My life is so different now,” he smiles. “If I had carried on drinking I’d have been dead by now.

“My hope is now, through the work with the charity, I can help give other people the opportunity to recover like I did.”

Hawkspring CEO, Lorraine Bush, said the number of people seeking help with substance misuse issues was increasing.

Mrs Bush said: “We’re seeing an increasing need for our services.

“And we can see that what’s really important is local, accessible services that people trust and can identify with.

“We see that there’s a real strength in now offering a one-stop centre with a whole-family approach.

“There’s a better chance of real, lasting life changes if the whole family can get support, rather than just an individual on their own.”

Hartcliffe is in the top five per cent of the most deprived areas in England where a larger than average number of people are affected by substance misuse.

Bristol South MP, Dawn Primarolo, is a keen supporter of Hawkspring.

Mrs Primarolo, who has signed up as a friend of Hawkspring, said: “Hawks and Kwads were two fantastic and hard-working organisations that have done so much for their communities.

“I’m delighted they’ve joined together to create Hawkspring, which will continue to offer much-needed specialist drug and alcohol support services for Bristol residents.”

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