Keith started coming to Handcrafted over 4 years ago. At the time, he was homeless, and battling an addiction to alcohol.
“I’ve been coming to Handcrafted for nearly 5 years now. I went on one of the machines and I had no confidence whatsoever. I couldn’t do nowt. I was so low and drink was my solution, just to change the way I felt. I wanted company, but I wanted drink more than anything else. It was a big struggle, and I struggled to get on with people, because of my insecurities, which I’ve had since I was a kid. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for Handcrafted, I wouldn’t be alive now.”
Keith’s battle with alcohol continued throughout his first year of attending the Durham carpentry workshop. He was also estranged from his family at the time and this made things difficult for him.
Slowly but surely, Keith started to make steps to change things in his life. With the help of Handcrafted staff, he found a place of his own to live. He’s now been living there for over 2 years, and it’s one of the first times in his life he’s successfully sustained a tenancy.
Attending Alcoholics’ Anonymous has been a huge part of Keith’s journey. He grew in confidence in the workshop and began attending the Chester-le-Street kitchen too when it opened. He began to reconnect with his family, even introducing his brother to the Durham workshop, and helping him learn to use the different machines that just a few years’ earlier he himself had struggled with.
“I’ve learnt that if you put in the effort you can change your life. Drugs and alcohol are not the solution to life. If we drink and take drugs, we just bury everything, we just make the situation worse. But if we put the effort in, the graft in, we realise what we’re doing: we’re not just doing this for ourselves, but for others too.
My eyes have started to be opened and I’ve started to see things I haven’t seen before and understand things I haven’t understood before. I’ve had to put the work in, but when I look back it’s a higher power, God, that’s done it for me.
I see God’s love through Handcrafted, I see Him working through situations where I haven’t had anything. I’ve learnt how to eat properly, how to do things with my hands. I love building airfix models at home, and I’ve started baking too. I’ve become a better person for it, giving back, instead of thinking about myself too much.
If there’s anyone out there too who’s struggling, I’d tell them that I’ve learnt that recovery is only one day at a time. Or half an hour at a time. Just do something productive and you’ll get there.”