Dave, aged 42 lives in Burnley and has done so all of his life. Bullied as a teenager, he often felt a great deal of pressure to fit in and believes it was these early negative experiences that led to his erratic behaviour, criminal activity and drug taking “it was ironic really as I used to socialise with the people who bullied me and changed my behaviour to fit in.”
Dave first began taking drugs at the age of 16 and by his 19th birthday had already completed a prison sentence and was physically dependent upon heroin. As a result of his 23-year drug addiction, Dave continued to commit crime and has spent most his adult life in prison or under the supervision of the probation service as a prolific offender.
The multiple negative lifestyle choices described above have led to poor physical and mental wellbeing. After a health scare in 2015, he decided it was time to turn his life around. ‘The doctors thought I might have lung cancer, I have scarring on my lungs from the rubbish I have smoked. I was having scans and tests it was really scary, that’s when I thought I don’t want to die, I thought there was no way I would ever make my 45th birthday if I carry on.”
Dave first found out about the CSI project through a friend who was also in recovery. In April 2015, he registered as a participant and started to attend the Burnley CSI sessions. After attending virtually every week and joining in with all the activities he went on to join the Blackburn and Preston five-a-side league football team. Dave described how sessions helped with his recovery and got him back into sport and physical activity. “It’s really important for me to keep myself busy, this has been a good way of doing that, I always liked sport at school but had just stopped doing it because of the situation I was in.”
In September 2016, he became a CSI volunteer and due to his hard work and commitment to the project, became a paid CSI Support worker in February 2017. Since gaining employment with Lancashire Sport Partnership Dave has; remained abstinent from drugs and found a more stable place to live. Dave says “When you are in recovery the drugs have gone but your problems are still there that you have been masking, this has given me a focus and helped me to gain confidence in myself, it’s the first job I have had in 23 years.”
Dave highlighted the importance of the CSI Project in enabling him to manage change in his lifestyle, he revealed how other recovery groups can often be quite emotionally draining, but sport has been a refreshing change ‘Most other recovery groups you have to attend go over your feelings, they use buzz words and all use the same terminology, after a while they become stressful. Sport has been a good way of keeping busy and spending time with other people in recovery without having to get stressed out, I really enjoy being at the sessions and take part in all of them.”
Dave now enjoys supporting others in recovery through sport and physical activity. He says he takes part in all the CSI sessions in his area as he wants to be a good role model to others “I like to take part in all the sessions because if I don’t how are other people going to feel confident enough to join in, I like to lead by example.”