Charlie’s Story: Meeting The Challenge

Within a short space of time last year, Charlie lost his long-term job, was given two weeks’ notice by his landlord to leave his rented flat and had reduced access to his three youngest children.

All fairly traumatic events, all within just over a couple of months each other, and all more than enough to make life difficult for anyone to cope with.

For Charlie, as a recovering alcoholic, emerging from such challenges is no easy task.

But emerge he has done, and Charlie is now one of the dedicated group of regular volunteers at the Good Shepherd, doing their bit to give back and help the charity’s work with people experiencing homelessness and vulnerability.

“I’m 63 years old, so losing my job like I did and having to start over again is hard,” says Charlie.

“In that same month, my landlord gave me two weeks to leave my flat because he was wanting to sell it.

“At the same time my youngest children went to live with my ex-partner, and while everything is good now and I get to see them, it was still difficult at the time.

“I came out with two suitcases and a rucksack, and went to the bank to try and draw some money out, and they told me about the P3 charity.

“I went to see them and they gave me some good advice and ended up finding me a room in a hostel, and then I had to sign on which I have never done before – I’d been working for 28 years.

“It was a difficult time and I’ve had it bad, but that can happen in life, can’t it?”

Charlie’s struggles with alcohol developed from having been introduced to it at a very young age, from where he also progressed to taking recreational drugs.

At one stage he was drinking 16 pints of lager and a bottle of vodka every day, before engaging with Alcoholics Anonymous helped to get himself back on track.

He also suffered with mental health issues, but always carried on working, and looking after his children, one of whom is autistic and has required daily care and support.

Last year’s setbacks, however, saw him needing to call on the support of the Good Shepherd, as he started attending three times a week for food to help him get by.

Being part of such a welcoming environment put him at ease, and he soon became a service user volunteer, helping out sorting deliveries and within the dining service.

He was also a keen contributor to the service user forum, a regular meeting where those accessing the Good Shepherd can get together to share their experiences and also talk about the charity’s operations and suggest areas of potential change or improvement.

Charlie has fitted in seamlessly, and is demonstrating the sort of dedicated work ethic which he has followed throughout his life.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he reveals.

“I love it here, the people are great, and I always have a chat with everyone.

“I have always worked hard and enjoy working hard, and I prefer it when it’s busy and I can keep moving.

“I’ve also been trying to improve myself, doing a lot of courses like computer IT, health & safety, and mental health awareness.

“I’d love to get back into work, even something part-time, but also I’ve really enjoyed volunteering here at the Good Shepherd.

“They really helped me when I needed it, so I’d love to keep giving something back.”

Charlie also received some more positive news recently.  Having seen one potential flat move fall through at the last minute, he is now out of the hostel and living in his own accommodation. 

With that, and regular contact with his children, he is hoping for a more positive future on the horizon.

At the same time, he is also still attending Alcoholics Anonymous and the Smart Self-Help group run by the Aquarius charity in Wolverhampton, in his words, ‘reconnecting his brain’, and ensuring any drinking now is strictly under moderation.

He has also benefitted substantially from support from other Wolverhampton-based charities and agencies, including Recovery Near You and SUIT.

He can vividly picture and remember the day – August 23rd last year – when he first visited the Good Shepherd.  And everything else that it has led to since.  

Charlie is now confident there is hope of a more positive future.

“It’s been a tough time and it’s been a challenge and there will be more challenges ahead I’m sure,” he adds.

“But I just want to try and stay as positive as I can and keep making progress.”

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