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You are here now : Julian House ⁄ Articles by: Verity Jones

Mark’s Story

2020 July 17 by

My whole life has been based around alcohol, drugs and violence, I never knew what emotions were like or experienced any in my drinking days. I knew if I carried on living like this, I would end up in prison or dead, prison got to me first.

Going to prison was the start to changing my life and making me the man I am today. While my time in prison was horrible not knowing when my cell door would open and when it did, was it a prison officer or another prisoner come to beat me up. I decided to look for opportunities to better myself. I completed all the courses I could and became a classroom helper in the health and wellbeing course, Naomi the teacher taught me that it’s ok to talk about things rather than let them overload your mind with bad thoughts. I also completed all the alcohol and drug groups which taught me to relax without having to use alcohol and the best way of dealing with situations and emotions.

When I was released from prison, I moved into a Julian House project which is a dry house, I was nervous to start with, then I met Sarah my key worker and felt at ease. Sarah is always there to listen to you and help you with any situations. Julian House has kept me sober, I still think about alcohol but knowing I am in a dry house helps to keep me sober. My target every day is not to drink.

I use my time wisely and like to keep myself busy. There is a gym in the dry house that I can use 24/7. I have decorated rooms in the house and have been keeping the garden and house clean and tidy.

My main targets are setting goals to better myself, I am volunteering at the Julian House bike workshop which I love and have met some good friends there. I have also completed a first aid course with Julian house and met some of the other residents from other houses while at the course who were friendly.

I have realised in the past I made every day hard work and thought things were impossible to change. Now I write a daily plan, set achievable goals. I’ve learnt how to compromise so everyone is happy, I find a balance in every situation an example of this is the windows in the house, when I was in prison, I was in a box 8ft by 10ft with no option to open a window I didn’t realise how good fresh air feels until it was taken away, I would like the window always open but know that others in the house don’t, I compromised using times when and when not to have them open while I am living in a shared house.

Thank you to everybody that has helped me to come this far, I will continue to make my daily plans and set achievable goals.

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Chris’s story

2020 July 16 by

From an early age I found life difficult. I didn’t seem to be able to have the same relationships others had. The world was a scary and unpredictable place, where anxiety and hyper vigilance tried to out-think any potential pitfalls coming my way.

Then I discovered alcohol. It quickly became my go to medicine for all these feelings, and it worked. But, at a cost.

By my mid 20’s I had had several psychiatric episodes, as alcohol enhanced an, as then undiagnosed, bi-polar disorder. The alcohol fueled the mania and depressed the depression.

In my lucid periods I was a good worker, running a large retail store in Bath city centre. I had got married and had a young son. We had even managed to buy a house in Weston.

But I know now just how fragile life is.

One day, I went to do the banking but decided to stop for a quick drink along the way. The next morning when I came to on my lounge floor, I knew my wife and son had left for good. That I would be fired from my job as there was money missing, and I knew there would be little support from my already emotionally stretched family.

Life tumbled quickly. I narrowly missed a conviction and possible imprisonment for theft, my wife filed for divorce and stopped access to my son, and my mother stopped me from staying at her house.

All wise choices on their behalf.

I was woken one morning by the cold concrete paving slabs in a corner of downtown Bath. No money and no one to even call friend. I was dangerously close to serious self-harm and spent the day hovering around Pultney Weir seeking some sudden bravery to jump. But I sat down and talked to some of the other homeless people on the benches by the river. They told me I could get a bed for the night at Julian House.

That night I queued at the steps full of fear and trepidation, not able to compute how a nice middle-class boy like me (so arrogant I know) could end up in a situation like this.

I was ushered in as the doors opened and for the first time in what seemed months, I was treated with respect and dignity. No judgement that I hadn’t been able to wash for days, that I smelt and swayed from the alcohol I’d managed to beg. Just reassurance that I’d get a warm meal and a bed, and that tomorrow they would help me get my benefits sorted, gain a crisis loan and start the process of searching for permanent shelter.

I can’t tell you, even to this day, how powerful that memory of unconditional love was.

I don’t know how long I used the service for exactly. It was a period of extremely hostile mental health for me. I know I had periods where I accessed the service very much the worse for wear, but when I apologized in the mornings it was always met with a “No problem – you were fine.”

No judgement – no loss of compassion.

I was encouraged to go and see my old GP again. I think it became clear to the workers that I had severe mental health problems along with my alcoholism. I did and gratefully I was admitted into the RUH and started treatment. I would love to say that was the end of my story, but recovery from alcoholism and ill mental health was still a decade away.

I have never forgotten my time using the hostel. I haven’t forgotten the kindness of people and the kindness of some of the fellow service users.

I got sober in 2005, and my first paid employment in a little over a decade was in a 50-bed direct access hostel in West Berkshire.

I hope that my approach to the residents, emulating the empathy and love that I received in Julian House has done the staff proud.

I have since worked in addiction and alcohol treatment both here and in rehabs in the Caribbean. I have spoken on BBC and other national news channels as a commentator on mental health and addiction – I have a meaningful, useful life today. It’s still dogged by mental ill health, but it’s as controlled as it will ever be.

I celebrated my 10th Sobriety birthday with a trip to a Bath meeting – held in the room directly behind the one I used to sleep in. I was able to go and knock on the door of Julian House and briefly share my story – thanking the staff today for all they do.

There is always hope. I’ve seen the most amazing recoveries from the most horrendous rock bottoms.

No one I have ever met chooses to be homeless, addicted, alcoholic or suffering with mental ill health. These are not lifestyle choices.

No one ever went to a careers officer at school asking to be an addicted street worker by the age of 25. The life of anyone struggling with these issues is hard beyond belief.They cope with more in 24 hours than most do in a decade.

I hope my story will help others understand that the homeless aren’t untalented wasters.

They are simply wasted talent.

Thank you for everything you do.


Chris is now the MD of Minding Minds, a partnership of certified MHFA trainers, alcohol and addiction specialists.

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Nationwide Manager seeks to scale ‘Mt Everest.’

2020 July 13 by

Jasmin [Jazz] Silk-Reeves, personal banking manager at Nationwide Bath, is to climb up and down the height of Mount Everest using just a stepper and grit determination. The challenge, which will see Jazz tackling a massive 115,000 steps on her indoor stepper in the bank’s branch on Union Street, seeks to raise money for Julian House to support their life saving work with people experiencing homelessness.

Jazz is no stranger to climbing mountains, after taking on the charity’s Kilimanjaro Challenge in February. However, climbing a mountain on a stepper is incredibly different. Starting 17th August, the challenge will see Jazz stepping every day whilst the store is open over the course of two weeks.

Of the challenge, she said: “I’m so delighted that I am able to support Julian House with fundraising again. After climbing Kilimanjaro back in February, it only felt right to go bigger this time. With the current circumstances, I will be completing the steps up Everest from the safety of our branch We love the work that Julian House does to support the homeless here in Bath. Their work makes a real difference to the community.”

Jess Gay, Senior Community & Events Fundraiser at Julian House added: “This is an amazing challenge which will take a lot of determination on Jazz’s behalf. I imagine stepping will get extremely tiering and tedious, so I hope a lot of community will come out to support her and donate in store or to her Just Giving Page. Due to the Coronavirus, the cancellation/postponement of our fundraising events and the initial closure of all our charity shops and bike shops, has meant we’ve predicted an income loss of at least £200,000. The money Jazz will raise will be used to help fund our services, like our hostel, domestic abuse refuge and outreach, so we can continue supporting very vulnerable people at this difficult time.”

Help Jazz reach her £2000 target by donating here or visiting and donating in branch, 21-22 Union Street, Bath. Every pound and penny helps: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jazzupeverest

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Shop News

2020 June 30 by

Our charity shops are opening

A huge thank you to everyone who donated items to our charity shops. We have been inundated, which is fantastic. Now we start the task of sorting, ready to get the stock out on the shelves.

This is great news for the charity because these popular retail outlets generate much needed funds for our various projects and services.

At the moment just three shops are open – Walcot St in Bath, Market Place, Frome and in the Shires in Trowbridge.  Opening hours will be slightly reduced (10-4) and social distancing measures will be introduced but otherwise it is business as usual.

Because of the need to quarantine stock there is extra space pressure in our stock rooms.  For this reason we are only accepting donations during pre- booked slots at the shops (no more than two bags or boxes).  In this way we can manage the volume and keep staff and customers safe.

Items needed:

Women’s & Men’s Clothing – Clean and no obvious flaws or marks
Accessories
Bric a brac – Items which you know others might buy
CDs & DVDs
Books
Good quality duvet sets (no duvets please)
Small electrical items (must be in working order)
Unwanted gifts
No furniture or large electrical items

Thank you in advance for your support.

The shop phone numbers are –

Walcot St 01225 331114,

Chatham Row  01225 311615,

Frome  01373 467940,

Trowbridge  01225 753648

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Scottie’s Story

2020 June 15 by

Scottie wrote to Julian House as he wanted to share his story;

A life not lived, a life existing in a world I created from the influence of drugs and alcohol. At the age of 8 years old my journey into depression, despair and darkness began as I had my first drink.

This led to drugs very quickly, leading into addiction on multiple scales. Homelessness, crime and poor health have dominated my existence for many years. I was able to survive un-noticed by many as I adapted to feed my habit- the power of addiction.

In the year 2020 hope entered my life, the year where I want to live. After almost 3 years of being homeless from losing my job and being evicted, a chance was presented to me; get clean, stay clean and help will be there for you.

Julian house is where my journey started its a new path, accepting me into one of the few houses that their charity has in this area- I will be eternally grateful. In 2019 I took a near fatal overdose from psychosis of crack addiction. Since I have been with Julian House, attending key work sessions, regular testing and receiving support, I am proud to say that my abstinence has been over 6 months now.

Giving a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a kitchen to cook and a bath to wash in, has give me a fresh start in this new life. Living in a shared house brings a sense of untidiness amongst each other going through similar circumstances. I have also devolved independence encouraged by my key worker ( you know who you are ), this is fundamental for me to move on and maintain all the good work I have done.

I can’t thank you enough, really I can’t. Running some more events for your charity will be a pleasure to help raise awareness and money as I did in this years Bath Half.

To everyone at Julian House THANKYOU…and to everyone who supports this amazing charity.

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Community Bike Donation Hub

2020 June 10 by

You can support our life changing services by setting up a Bike Donation Drop-Off in your community.

Our good work relies on a steady supply of donated unwanted bikes. A pop-up bike donation drop-off is a bike donation drive where we challenge you to find at least 5 unwanted bikes from your community, be that a business, school, university, scout/guide or church group. You might find these by asking your friends, family, neighbours or colleagues, or by promoting your bike donation drive on-line or around your local area.

Your bike donation drive may last a few weeks where you collect and store bikes until you have enough for us to collect, or you can organise your donors to drop bikes off on a single day, just in time for us to collect. It’s up to you.

All you need is a secure, dry space to store the bikes and once you’re ready, we’ll drop by with our van and collect them.

What kind of bikes do we need?

We need bikes that are mostly rust-free and have been kept dry. We need all styles and sizes; mountain bikes, BMXs, ladies’ bikes, kids bikes and vintage racers are all in demand.

If a bike has been left outside and is rusty, unfortunately it won’t be economically viable for us to refurbish it and it will actually end up costing us money to scrap it. If you’re unsure just get in touch with one of our bike workshops and they will be able to advise.

Why host a Pop-Up Bike Donation Drop-Off?

We simply couldn’t operate without the kindness of people being willing to donate their unwanted bike to us. By collecting donations for us you will be helping to transform the lives and futures of people who are homeless and socially excluded. You will be helping to protect the environment by preventing an unwanted bike going to landfill, and by keeping a bike on the road, you’ll also be contributing to cleaner air and less congestion.

How to get started

Getting started is really easy.

Just get in touch with your nearest Julian House Bike Workshop and let us know you’re interested in hosting a pop-up bike donation drop-off.

Bath Bike Workshop | bath@jhbikeworkshop.org | 01225 463350

Trowbridge Bike Workshop | trowbridge@jhbikeworkshop.org | 01225 764485

Bristol Bike Workshop | bristol@jhbikeworkshop.org | 0117 951 2541

Exeter Bike Workshop | info@ebw.org.uk | 01392 432788

We’ll then request some further information and discuss your bike donation drive in more detail.

How your donated bikes make a real difference to people’s lives

Thanks to your efforts, people like Danielle are using bikes to move forwards with their lives.

Danielle spent her childhood in foster homes, became homeless at 17 and spent years in abusive relationships.

Eventually she found the strength to seek help and start putting her life back together. She completed a build-a-bike course at our bike workshop, where an unwanted bike was put to good use helping to rebuild her confidence, develop new skills and gain work experience. Danielle succeeded in transforming a donated bike into a machine she could be proud of. She went on to undertake a work placement and received further support and training from Julian House to find and secure paid work.

“This bike means everything to me, because I built it. I never knew I could achieve something like this. To me it’s more than just a bike; it’s my freedom and my independence. My support worker calls it my ‘wheels to recovery”.

Thanks to your bike donations, people like Danielle will have access to training, support and a lasting route out of hardship and homelessness.

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Our charity shops are opening

2020 June 9 by

A huge thank you to everyone who donated items to our charity shops. We have been inundated, which has been incredible. We unfortunately don’t have the storage space to take any more donations until further notice. Thank you again and now we start the task of sorting, ready to get the stock out on the shelves.

Julian House is starting to open its charity shops.  This is great news for the charity because these popular retail outlets generate much needed funds for our various projects and services.

Initially just three outlets will be opening from Monday 15th June – Walcot St in Bath, Market Place, Frome and in the Shires in Trowbridge.  Opening hours will be slightly reduced (10-4) and social distancing measures will be introduced but otherwise we are hoping for business as usual.

For the first few weeks of opening we are asking that stock donations are not dropped off at the shops and instead delivered to our offices at 55 New King, Bath, BA1 2BN* on the following Fridays – 12th, 19th & 26th June (10:00-16:00).  All donations will be quarantined for 3 days and then pre-sorted for the shops.  This will help us to manage the huge influx of stock that is expected after the lock down and allow the shops a bit of breathing space whilst they get used to the new ways of working in their cramped stock rooms.

Items needed:

Women’s & Men’s Clothing – Clean and no obvious flaws or marks

Accessories

Bric a brac – Items which you know others might buy

CDs & DVDs

Books

Good quality duvet sets (no duvets please)

Small electrical items (must be in working order)

Unwanted gifts

No furniture or large electrical items

Thank you in advance for your support.

*For Frome and Trowbridge donations, if delivering to Bath is difficult please telephone the shop and book a drop-off slot – 01373 467940   01225 753648 respectively.

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Andrew’s Story

2020 May 11 by

Andrew (44) is currently in lockdown in a Julian House emergency accommodate site in Bath. Prior to this he had been trying to stay safe in the cramped environment of the charity’s 20 bed emergency hostel on Manvers Street.

Andrew in his pod at the hostel – a private space but cramped.

Although Julian House staff had been doing their best to make the hostel building as safe as possible – including staggered meal times and hand sanitiser available for everyone, it was very apparent that what worked in normal times wouldn’t work now. It was for this reason that ten clients, including Andrew, were moved out to a temporary facility.

Looking back on how the pandemic has impacted his life, Andrew recalls when the seriousness of it all hit home – “We heard about it all on the news but it seemed very far away. We didn’t take it too seriously. When the shops closed, the streets became empty and people started to die, that’s when it became scary. Then the sanitiser arrived in the hostel. At that stage I was worried about the crowding there.”

Andrew has been in Bath for 15 years. Prior to this he grew up in another part of the country. In many respects he had a very conventional upbringing and early life. Working in the family business for a good many years. He remembers well how things started to go wrong. A family row and starting to move in different circles was the backdrop to his introduction to heroin. Prior to this his only relationship with drugs was a bit of cannabis now and again.

He fully acknowledges that the bad choices that were made were his. “It was a way of fitting in with others. But the trouble is you have to take more heroin to get the hit you had last time – until it takes over your life.”

Moving to Bath with a friend was a very deliberate effort by Andrew to break free from drug addiction and the destructive world that he was living in. Initially he had accommodation in the YMCA and then eventually he moved into a housing association flat. Life started to look good again. He got himself clean of drugs. He married and had two children.

But he and heroin and hadn’t quite finished with each other. Things started to unravel and once again he found himself on the streets. Not having a settled home put a strain on his marriage. During this time he was a frequent client at Julian House. Thankfully his family stepped in to look after his children which meant that they were safe and had continuity in their lives.

There have been some false dawns for Andrew. Moving out of the Manvers Street hostel in 2019 and sharing a place with a mate was a bad move. It didn’t work out.

He thinks he moved too soon. Looking back it would have been much better to go into a supported housing unit but this seemed like the best option for him at the time. “The support that I have had from Julian House and DHI has been brilliant. Now nearly a year on it’s probably a good time for me to make that move but Coronavirus has got in the way. I have been clean for 7 months and I’m feeling good. I’m on a methadone script but even now when they’ve bent the rules so that you get a week’s worth in one go, rather than the normal daily dose, I am not even tempted to gorge on it.”

The lock down has been hard on Andrew and the other clients. Like most people across society it is restrictive, and boredom is an issue but he acknowledges that things could be much worse. And the future?

“I look forward to having my own place again. Leaving Methadone behind. Getting a job and going fishing again. I have stayed in touch with my kids through all of my troubles and it will be great to see more of them too.”

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Bike Workshops to re-open

2020 May 6 by

We are very pleased to announce that we are re-opening our Bath Bike Workshop this coming Saturday, the 9th May at 9am.  

The Bike Workshop will then be open Tues – Sat from 9am to 5pm.

The safety of our customers, colleagues and the communities we serve is our primary consideration, so we will be strictly following social distancing guidelines. 

We will make further announcements regarding the re-opening of our Bristol, Exeter and Trowbridge workshops soon. 

We are able to provide the full range of services – new and used bikes, parts, accessories, repairs and servicing. We have good stock of new and used bikes, parts and accessories and our suppliers are operational for any hard to get parts or new bikes that we don’t have in stock. 

We have only a skeleton staff, so for now we will only be able to take pre booked service and repair (call 01225 463350 Tuesday – Saturday 9-5), with priority given to key workers and NHS staff, and as always, we will always be as helpful and flexible as we are can.

We look forward to seeing you soon, to servicing our community, and in turn supporting the incredible work of Julian House – the homeless charity, that, right now, is facing tremendous challenges providing lifesaving services to vulnerable and homeless people.

For more information about how you can help directly, please click here.

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