Charlotte – “I’ve gained in confidence, and have developed a repertoire of transferable skills”

Charlotte was supported by Fulfilling Lives Lambeth,
Southwark and Lewisham for several years, during which time
she made many changes in her life. We are privileged to
continue work alongside her, learn from her, and are so proud
of everything she has achieved. We wish her all the best as she
starts her new university course.

We asked her to share a bit about her experiences and how her
life is now, in her own words as we focused on #AdultLearning this week:

“I was referred to the programme in 2016, having just returned home
from a treatment centre outside London. I have accessed numerous
substance misuse services and treatment programmes over the last 18
years, and I can honestly say that Fulfilling Lives is a very unique and
exceptional programme.

From the outset, I felt respected and valued as an individual, as
opposed to a recovering addict. I felt that my recovery journey was a
collaboration between my key worker and myself, with a focus on
independent living and regaining my place in society.

I was not automatically encouraged to use ‘aftercare’ or 12-step
recovery groups. After quickly identifying that this had not worked for
me in the past, we developed a very bespoke and holistic treatment
plan that was centred around rebuilding my life in the same flat that it
had fallen apart in.

In early recovery, we re-built my relationships with my children and
family, gained more access to my youngest, and found activities such
as swimming, yoga, and creative writing that encouraged me to stay
clean. We then completely redecorated my flat which was fundamental
to my recovery. Prior to Fulfilling Lives, I’d always be told not to ‘focus
on fixing the inside before the outside’ but actually the two are
interrelated. My key worker was the first to acknowledge that this was
important to me and vital for my individual recovery.

I was asked to be part of the recruitment panel quite early on, which
was initially a rather anxiety provoking experience, but after
encouragement from the team, I began to really enjoy it. I have
always felt that I am an equal part of the panel, working alongside the
project leads and other managers in our partner programmes, and
that my opinion and insights are genuinely taken into account.

I am now a NECG ambassador for the programme which is a very
dynamic and rewarding role. I am able to ‘act as a voice’ for our
beneficiaries in the regional and national meetings, meaning that our
collective lived experience is used to influence the delivery of existing
services, and shape the design of those to come. We are currently
working on designing a pilot project in line with both the Fulfilling
Lives and NECG’s system change priorities, true co-design and co-production.

On a personal level, I can speak publicly in groups of over 60 people
now which I could never have done before, and I credit this to the
constant encouragement and support that I receive from every
member of the Fulfilling Lives LSL team. I have attended, and
managed to speak up in System Change Action Network meetings and
Shared Learning Forums, because I feel that my insights are valued,
and more importantly will be acted upon.

My roles within the programme have helped me in so many ways, I’ve
gained in confidence, and have developed a repertoire of transferable
skills. I very much feel part of the team, I’m really welcomed when I
come into the office, and I was very honoured to be awarded the
‘Michael Rosen Award for Best Volunteer’ last year, a big surprise!
The Fulfilling Lives team are also helping me to meet my personal
development and career goals. With their unfailing, truly altruistic
support, including many, many chats with various members over the
last few years, I have been able to complete a Pre-Access and an
Access course, and now I’m about to start a degree, four years ago I
was not even capable of sending an email!”