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From former addict, to four years clean.

During 22 years of drug and alcohol addiction Keith spent his life trapped between sleeping rough on the streets and prison. Hit by a family breakdown and the death of his daughter, his road to recovery was tough. But with the help of local homeless and addiction recovery charities, today Keith is four years clean and in full time employment. Working as an outreach worker at Julian House, he now uses his own experiences daily to help those around him.

That’s not all. This year he’s also taking part in Julian House’s Big Bath Sleep-Out 2019. He’s determined to help raise much needed funds for the charity and to raise awareness about the complexity of homelessness.

Since the age of 15, Keith was in and out of prison. Growing up on a one of the toughest council estates in Bristol, he saw his descent into crime, alcohol and drugs as inevitable. People close to him became a victim of his addition. At points, his family were forced to call the police and even take out a restraining order. For years he was completely absorbed by a life of crime and drugs.

But with the help of St. Mungo’s in Bristol, Keith was moved into a Dry House where he was able to detox and for 17 months he remained clean. But after his partner lost their unborn daughter he relapsed, and the vicious cycle began again.

A year later he returned to recovery. Keith says that he finally acknowledged that it wouldn’t be the drugs that killed him but his pride, guilt and shame.

“I’ve now been clean for four years, since the 20th December 2014,” Keith says proudly. It’s a date that never leaves you.

Eager to give back, Keith began volunteering and working at St. Mungo’s during his time in recovery. Keen to work outside of Bristol, he was then offered a job at Julian House in December 2017, and now works as a full-time outreach worker in Bath. Since joining the charity, he’s used his own experiences to help and support many people in a situation like his own.

“It’s about taking responsibility for my own actions. I joined Julian House to make amends.”

If that wasn’t enough, this year, Keith has decided to join his colleagues to take part in Julian House’s Big Bath Sleep-Out 2019. Happening on 8 March, the annual event consists of participants being sponsored to sleep out for one night in Alice Park.

Everything raised goes towards helping people, like Keith, transform their lives.

Organiser Cathy Adcock explains the idea around the event: “Of course no-one is under any illusion that spending one cold night in Alice Park could possibly come close to the stark reality of being homeless and sleeping on the streets.

But taking part in the Sleep-Out gives members of the public the chance to empathise with those who are forced to sleep on the streets as well as raising much needed awareness

about a big problem right on our doorstep. The sponsorship they raise will also provide much needed income to help and support homeless men and women in Bath and the underlying issues which drive men and women into this desperate situation.”

The event is popular with people of all ages. Families, groups from schools, churches, the community and corporates have all signed up to make a difference. Julian House is now calling on you to join them on the 8 March.

Pre-registration is essential, and all details can be found here, by emailing Jessica Gay on jessica.gay@julianhouse.org.uk or calling 07939055432.

Registration forms are also available from Julian House charity shops in Walcot St and Shaftesbury Road as well as Alice Park café.