Keith. Photo Credits: Julian House

Keith’s Story

During our interview with members of the Julian House team, we were introduced to Keith – a charming employee with a truly inspiring story.

Keith grew up in one of the roughest council estates in Bristol – an area consumed by the chaos that comes with serious drug and crime epidemics. The environment in which he grew up shaped him and, with easy access to drugs and many opportunities to make a fast buck, Keith fell into the trappings of addiction and misdemeanour. As such, he found himself in and out of prison, reliant on narcotics and consistently relying on the shelter of the streets. Everyone close to Keith became a victim of his addiction. Heroin, crack, alcohol, amongst many others, became not only his vice, but his primary obstacle to recovery. Only after being given the opportunity to enter a ‘dry house’ – a hostel with strict rules of abstinence from all substances – Keith finally had the environment in which he could detox, ending his 22 years of addiction.

Addiction under control, Keith could finally start to reintegrate into a society that had neglected him. He was offered a position at his local homeless charity St Mungos, working night shifts looking after those that he would have been shooting up with just a few years earlier. This unique position he found himself in manifested into a double edged sword. On the one hand, whilst he greatly appreciated the opportunity to help those who were in a similar position, the relationship he shared with those clients made things very difficult – being able to see through the lies of an addict. He soon moved to Julian House where his career has gone from strength to strength; looking after 31 clients and operating as an outreach worker several mornings a week. Alongside this, Keith has taken part in many aspects of Julian House’s fundraising having completed sponsored skydives and having participated in sleepouts.

Keith has been clean and off the streets for just over 4 years now, a remarkable achievement by all means. Now working with Julian House, he sees potential in the majority of his clients to make the same transition. Reunited with his family, his two daughters and living independently, Keith lives an exemplar life for all those he’s around.

Matt Kemp

Matt is a final year Politics and Economics student and Deputy Editor (Online) for 2020/1.

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