International Women’s day - Grace wins highly coveted nursing placement

Grace, a former student and member of our recovery community has just won a nursing placement at a prestigious London hospital! Here she is with her recovery story - an inspiring one to celebrate this Thursday on International Women's Day.   

It’s hard to believe that she's just 19 years old as she seems much more mature - her make-up immaculate, dressed smartly, always smiling. Grace was referred to us by her keyworker at the local recovery house she lived in. A year and a few months down the line, how different does it feel?
 
Grace now attends college 3 days a week, studying midwifery. 

“Very different. Just little things. Even in the sense of just knowing people makes a big difference. I remember first walking in and being very nervous and thinking it’s very big and there are lots of people and I don’t know any of them.  Now it feels like a second home.  My home from home which is lovely.”

Grace now attends college 3 days a week, studying midwifery.  She explains what drew her to this “I wanted to do psychology so I did the Knowledge for Change course at SCT.  But I was talking to a friend and he said 'Grace, two flat batteries don’t start a car'. I laughed and I thought sometimes you can do too much of one thing. 
 

"I found a local college that does nursing and I thought I would like to give back something to the service as the NHS is struggling”.

I found a local college that does nursing and I thought I would like to give back something to the service as the NHS is struggling”. Coming into recovery at such a young age, what made Grace start drinking?

“I started drinking to try and cope with life, I think.  I don’t try and jazz it up. I was a very lonely, distressed and uncomfortable with myself, kind of child. Somebody described me as a very melancholy child. I was definitely like that as a kid, so drinking was kind of acceptable and then drinking alone was the way to cope with living alone at 17.” 

So how did she come in to recovery?  “I came into recovery because I would drink, blackout and try and kill myself and I would never remember doing it. So I would wake up in a mental health unit or in A&E and they would ask why I was suicidal and I would say “I’m not”.  Obviously subconsciously I was and in my last drunk I took 57 antidepressants and nearly died because I took it with a lethal amount of alcohol.

A lady from Lifeline came round and asked me if I thought I had a problem and that is really where it started. So recovery was my only option. Not one that I wanted but I am very grateful I’ve got it now. “
 

Grace was put into care at 12. At first she was fostered and then put into a homeless hostel.

Grace was put into care at 12. At first she was fostered and then put into a homeless hostel. “They are not designed to be caring places.  All care leavers have to go into these hostels at 16 or 17.  You know there is a 1% success rate for every care leaver in the UK. That’s 1% of a chance of going to Uni, a 1% chance of not being an alcoholic or an addict, 1%!”

So it’s good for Grace that she's in that 1%? “Yes, but I worry about the other 99%. That’s why I need to change the world but I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I’m a believer that if you help someone and they get well, they are going to help someone else and start to change the world”.
 

"You know there is a 1% success rate for every care leaver in the UK. That’s 1% of a chance of going to Uni, a 1% chance of not being an alcoholic or an addict, 1%!”

Grace was one of the people who met HRH Prince William when he came to visit. What do you say to royalty? “I showed him some of my artwork in the art room and he said he really liked it and then we were talking about the fact that I’m going to be a midwife and he said “Maybe I’ll see you sooner than you think”.  That would be quite nice indeed.  The first child I deliver is a royal baby!”

Grace came to SCT with the odds stacked against her, care home at 12, alcoholic black-outs, suicide attempts and yet it looks like she will be one of the 1% of care leavers to go to university.
 

Grace came to SCT with the odds stacked against her, care home at 12, alcoholic black-outs, suicide attempts and yet it looks like she will be one of the 1% of care leavers to go to university.

We finally chat about her singing, it is well known that Grace has an incredible singing voice. I asked why she didn’t join the SCT choir. “Because I still get very nervous singing.  It was funny, I was at college the other day and we were in the toilets, I’ve got somebody in my class who is a trained dental hygienist so she brushes her teeth every break and I started singing to her ‘cos every now and then I joke in opera and she was just like “Wow”. Then I get really nervous because I realise I have just sung and I get shy again. 

I still suffer from anxiety every minute of every day.  Having said that, you might hear me on the radio one day!” We hope so Grace.

"I still suffer from anxiety every minute of every day.  Having said that, you might hear me on the radio one day!”

Thank you to Ali Rawlings for interviewing Grace and to Roj Whitelock for the fabulous photograph shot in Paper &Cup.

 
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