In April 2022 I was doing an aftercare program with Kairos community trust after 7 months in residential rehab and was introduced to SCT. Out in the real world, I was hit by reality; my benefits were stopped, I had to attend court for the rights of my children, I had debts and the fear that I could go back to the streets from where I came and lose my children. I was desperate to find connection, some place where I feel safe. I have never really known how to express myself artistically or even verbally, social situations were my absolute worst enemy. 

I was surrounded by artists from an early age and that contributed to my low self-esteem and never really tried to express myself artistically. To be honest, coming to SCT, I needed just that safe space, surrounded by people in recovery. I was feeling so incapable of living. The art class looked like something I always wanted to try, and here I had the opportunity to do so without feeling less, or judged, or being told I am not good enough. Without expectations when I started the class, I found it very therapeutic. In that time and space, I could just clear all my negative thoughts and just enjoy the quiet moment with colours, music and nice people. I could shut off all the world outside without the use of drugs. Feeling connected with what I do, the people and self. The artwork I created is me. Coming to recovery, I realised that everything I know about anything is wrong, and I put the work in and started that ‘brainwash’ process. Through my using, I saw life in black and white, but in that brainwash process I started to see the colours of life and that’s my message. A message of hope. 

I have been coming to SCT more than a year now, and it plays a massive part in my recovery. As I started to build trust, ask for help and learn to communicate with people, they have helped me in many areas of my life. It’s not too much if I say that where I am in my journey today and what I have is because of the support I get here. 

If someone had told me a year ago that I would do what I am doing today and that someone actually likes my art, I would have laughed at them. A year ago, I was in supervision order, living in temporary accommodation almost outside London, still in debt, feeling let down by the system and not supported by social services, in a lot of fear about travelling expenses and how I will go to my support groups and knowing what I would do. 

I stick to my art classes and coming here no matter what, I found support and understanding. From being unsure and frightened about life, not knowing how to communicate and crying all the time, here I now feel able to open myself to be as I am, be honest and ask for help. 

Today I am free from social services, have permanent accommodation for me and my children, all my bills are paid, and I pay my debts. I can’t thank SCT enough for all the support they have given me around benefits and dealing with social services and so on. As the art classes are so therapeutic, it’s not just about that. It’s the place and the people and the connection and support. It’s like a family for me, maybe even more. Magical! To be honest, I don’t know if I would be able to do art in a different place, or on another course. I am very pleasantly surprised at how I started to open myself up and just let everything out on the canvas. 

This place and people, our art teacher and everyone helping me to regulate my emotions in few times when I felt so overwhelmed from life and had an emotional crisis, I found support here. They sit with me for more than an hour and we talk and I have that space to let everything out and feel better after. We are all in recovery and talking about recovery is good and it’s helping me a lot to hear how the other people work their program, I may even find something which works for me too, but it is the connection and that feeling of safety I have when I am here.  

As a single mother of two children, which thank God because of all the recovery and all the support I have are back in my life, I am doing my best and to give them a safe home and emotional security (sometimes it can be hard to do that, when my emotions are all over the place). I always had a problem with doing nice things for myself. All the time I think about and do what is in my kid’s best interest and not thinking about me. Here I was told a few times that I need to do something nice for me and I follow that suggestion and it feels great. So, I am still in a learning progress but feel proud of myself today.  

My life has changed so much in the past year, and I have no idea where it will take me from here. I was here when my life was changing and I do hope they don’t kick me out, so I can still create art.