Service Users Stories
Some service users have offered to write briefly on their experience of the Cork Alliance Centre. Their participation in the programme varies in length and reflects the level of work and change that happens with people as they engage in the process. The honesty in their contributions is greatly appreciated and valued by the Board and staff.
“Without the intervention of the Cork Alliance Centre before my release from prison, in September 2004, there was a 99% chance I would be dead, through a culture of alcohol and drug misuse. A harsh reality, yet so true “I was a dead man walking”. Not only has the staff saved my life, they have also saved the lives of generations to come, the chain can be broken (I have a one year old son). I haven’t seen the inside of a prison in five years. With the support of the Cork Alliance, my progression route has been through the education sector - with ECDL, FETAC Levels 5 and 6 in Furniture Making, a UCC Certificate in Non-Formal Guidance and now I am in my final year of a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanities (Community Education & Development) in CIT. Together with my studies, I am employed in a special needs school and a community development project with ex-offenders and ex-prisoners as a registered V.E.C woodwork instructor. Words and achievements will never describe the true gratitude for the air that I breathe. The core of my heart beats “The Cork Alliance Centre”. The state spends more money locking up young women and young men, avoiding the social and public health problems in a culture of alcohol, drug misuse, unemployment, and early school leaving, which may have caused these people to stray in life. Centres like the Cork Alliance, should be continued and supported with the finances and the resources to deal with the issues and the problems young people face in a toxic society. When I was in and out of prison the one thing I failed to achieve was “SUICIDE”. Prison didn’t work for me, it corroded me to the extent that life wasn’t worth living, who cares - as a prisoner I was just a number. How much is a life worth, at the end of the day “priceless”. The taxes I pay will go on the merry-go-round to support the revolving door syndrome. Through the Cork Alliance Centre, in my case it has put a stop to the revolving door. It works. The staff of the Cork Alliance gave me the steering wheel to my life, the Alliance Centre is the engine when I need a trusty wordy and a reliable service, it’s the safest place for me.”
“Since linking in with Cork Alliance in June 2007 my life has totally changed around. At the time I was an active alcoholic and drug addict…when I realised after the 3 months [in prison] my life was fairly chaotic, I was bordering on becoming a chronic alcoholic and I would take almost any drug. On one of my sober days I called to see Vicky because you see in between the madness of my addiction I wanted to be normal again. One thing that is still clear in my mind is what Vicky said to me that day, she said “we will help you to deal with your addiction problem and help you get back on the straight and narrow but we won’t chase after you, the help is here if you want it”. It is now almost three years since that day and I haven’t drank in two years or taken a drug in 12 months …firstly I got help around my drinking. I had finally managed to stop. But even though I had stopped drinking I now had become heavily addicted to prescription medication, something that I was in total denial with at the time. I felt I had come so far – I didn’t have anymore charges, I was working… my life was getting better all thanks to Cork Alliance, I had come so far and I couldn’t give up now. So again with the help of Cork Alliance I went into Tabor Lodge for an intensive treatment program. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. So here I am a year on from Tabor and my life couldn’t be better. If I’m asked if the Cork Alliance has made any difference to my life, I say YES loads. My life couldn’t be better, I’m doing a personal development and self awareness course which is the foundation for a lot more courses which could eventually help me to learn how to help others, because I hope some day to work in the community helping other addicts. …I would like to thank [the staff] for all the help they have given me. I wouldn’t be where I am today because of them”
“I first came in contact with the Cork Alliance when I was serving a sentence in Limerick prison and that was over four years ago. They didn’t tell me I was going to be released early if I continued to keep in contact, they didn’t promise me anything really, but the kindness and support I have received has been unbelievable. Before I was released from prison, my sister had died suddenly. On release from prison I was lost, everything I knew had changed. I was grieving for my sister and I was in the throws of my addiction. I had no where to turn but to the Cork Alliance. I was always treated with respect and felt very comfortable with the staff. To help me grieve the loss of my sister, the Cork Alliance offered to provide me with counselling and I accepted. It was through this counselling and the on going support I received and continue to receive from the staff that I was able to come to terms with my loss. I also learned of my additions and went through a primary and secondary treatment programme. Again with the support from the staff of the Cork Alliance I was able to complete it and have been free from alcohol and drugs for almost three years. Making contact with the Cork Alliance was the best thing I ever done. My life has changed so much, the Cork Alliance has inspired me to help others the way I have been helped. I am gone back to full time education in order to achieve this. I could write a book on how much my life has changed with the help of these people. I haven’t been in trouble with the law since and I am living a healthy and peaceful life and I know that without the support, kindness and guidance I received and continue to receive from the Cork Alliance my life would be very different and chaotic today.”
“The difference that the Cork Alliance Centre has made in my life is that I now have a sense of direction in my life for the first time. Cork Alliance provided counselling for me to help with my addiction and other counselling services to help with other issues in my life. Now I am on the right path in life thanks to Cork Alliance. They always provide a friendly and efficient service for people in desperate need of their service. I owe them a lot for helping me to sort out my life and helping me to make the changes that I needed to live a clean healthy sober life.”
“The difference it has made in my life is I look at life in a new way. I’ve grown up since coming here and with the help from Sheila, who is the best in the world and has done more than my own mother has. The staff working with her have done good work too – I would be lost without this place”