At 18 years of age Leanne wanted to go to University but she didn’t go because she was in a relationship at the time which she was frightened would end if she went away. Instead she got a job and stayed at home.

Unfortunately, the relationship ended and life began to become increasingly difficult for Leanne. She hated her job, was sad about the relationship ending and began to drink heavily to a point where she became very ill and incapable of holding her job down. Her parents invariably didn’t know where she was. “I would buy 3 bottles of wine for a tenner and when I’d finished the wine I’d go to the pub and drink the dregs from beer glasses – sometimes the dregs had fag ends in them but I’d still drink the beer, I was that desperate for alcohol”. After 6 years of heavy drinking Leanne was admitted to hospital due to her alcoholism. From hospital Leanne was referred to Kairos, an alcohol rehabilitation centre, where she stayed for 5 months.

Leanne managed to reduce her alcohol consumption but when she left Kairos she slept rough and continued to drink. “I would do anything to get alcohol. I slept in Gilesgate graveyard, by the crypt. I was so cold I stole a bright coloured tent from a garden and slept in it. The owner recognised the tent which belonged to a little girl. The tent was taken back by the owner and so I had to move on. I was still in touch with the Support Worker who had helped me at Kairos. He came and found me sleeping rough and referred me for help with accommodation”

Leanne came to DASH and was immediately allocated a room. Leanne’s support workers at DASH, Steven and John, contacted Leanne’s parents to let them know that she was safe. They remained in contact with her parents while Leanne was at DASH and they worked with Leanne to help her to reduce her drinking. They helped her to claim DLA and during the time that Leanne was a DASH tenant she was able to reduce her drinking. “DASH were the first agency to give me hope and the support workers were so helpful and caring”

After a spell with DASH Leanne then moved back to her parent’s home and although she was still drinking she was significantly better than she had been before being referred to DASH.

When she was 28 Leanne went to live independently in Lanchester but unfortunately she gravitated into bad company. “Alcoholics tend to stick together, not necessarily because they are friends but they like to see who has money and then scrounge drink off of them!” Leanne started to drink more and started seeing a man who had a serious drink problem and, as it turned out, mental health issues. The relationship became abusive and after a while Leanne realised it was not safe to stay with him. “One day I was watching t.v. while he was upstairs in bed. He came downstairs in a rage because he thought I was talking to a man in the living room. He threw a whisky bottle at me. I ran out to go to the pub for safety but he came after me and rugby tackled me to the floor.” Leanne split up with the violent man and continued to live on her own in Lanchester.

After 17 months living on her own Leanne returned to her parent’s home. Her mental health had suffered and she was referred for counselling. During a counselling session with her psychologist Leanne squatted in the corner of the room and urinated. As a result of her behaviour Leanne was sectioned for 28 days just before Christmas 2012. She was in Lanchester hospital for 5 months, eventually under section 3. “It was like being in prison with nothing to do. After the initial detox I was bored and as my mind slowly returned to me I was able to do a lot of thinking about what had become of me. I started to read again which was brilliant – and I started to write again as well. As my behaviour improved I earned privileges including being able to play badminton and go out and buy books and go to the café for coffee which was all great. This was a turning point in my life but if it hadn’t been for DASH and the support I received while I was there, and the other agencies who helped me, I don’t think I would have survived to this point”.

During this time Leanne’s parents visited her regularly and when she left hospital and returned home in the summer of 2013 Leanne had been dry for 5 months. “going home was like taking baby steps at first, staying sane and staying sober were my priority and thankfully I succeeded”.

Leanne was not able to secure work which she desperately wanted so after a while she decided to volunteer for the Heart Foundation in the book section. Then one day when she was in Subway she met an old gymnastics friend who was now the manager there and she offered her a part time job on the night shift - 7pm to 4 am. “It was strange seeing people coming into the shop in the early hours drunk. Women with makeup smeared down there faces and here I was, sober and working! It was great to be working and earning money and I didn’t mind the night shifts.”

Then Leanne managed to secure a better job at Iceland where she has now been for 3 years and whilst working Leanne has returned to education part time. In the first year she did an Access to Higher Education course in Humanities. Then she progressed on to a two-year Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care. Leanne decided to do a placement at DASH in October and November 2016 as a part of the course which is why we decided to prepare this profile about her.

As she left the office today she said with a broad smile - “Next year I want to go to University to study Occupational Therapy".