Linda’s life had been full of difficulties. She seemed to be trapped in a downward spiral. But one day in the Wild Goose, things changed. Esther, Deputy Manager for Engagement, recalls meeting Linda and her partner Jack for the first time in the Goose’s small office. Everything began, she says, with a simple admission: ‘We need help.’ This is Linda’s story:
I lost custody of all my kids, through domestic violence and drugs. Five years, I went without them. And it hurts. Even now, it still hurts.
When I first met Jack, my partner, we got in a bit of trouble with drugs – selling them and taking them. Heroin and crack. It got to the point where my friend got attacked in our house and we couldn’t stay there anymore. We had to stay in Pontins [holiday park] for a month, while the police investigation was going on.
Then, when we came back to Bristol, Jack introduced me to the Goose. I met Esther there, who helped us out with everything – clothes, food, listening, support with our benefits. She contacted the Compass Centre and got us somewhere to stay.
Everything’s changed now. I’ve been clean for a year and a half. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t worthless, basically. My children needed me and I had to fight to get them back.
Jack’s now clean, too. He’s even clean off his script. It’s an amazing story, actually. Andy [Deputy Manager for Provision] was new here. Jack said to him, ‘Do you know what? Just pray for me.’ And he did, and Jack’s not gone back [to drugs] since. He’s not religious in any way, but that was it – Andy said one prayer and Jack’s been clean ever since. It’s absolutely amazing. He’s doing brilliantly – he’s put loads of weight on, and he looks really well.
I’ve stopped as well with my anti-depressants. I’m actually able to sleep at night. I’m not so agitated anymore, and I don’t have flashbacks as much. We’ve got a nice little flat – yeah, it’s small, but it’s getting there. Esther helped us out a lot with that. She helped me move down with my stuff, and got us a sofa. We’re on the top floor, so it was hard work!
I’m on monthly benefits but I’ve just got a new job, which I’m really proud of. I haven’t had a job in 14 years. I love it.
I’m really grateful. You lot [the Wild Goose team] have helped so much. You’re like a little family that supports our little family. It doesn’t matter what’s gone wrong – I can always come down, and I can always ring you, and you’re there for me and my family. Some organisations aren’t that deep into it. It’s like, ‘Here’s your food, see you in two weeks’ time.’ And that’s it. But with Esther, she’ll notice when something’s wrong. I take my hat off to the Goose team and what they do and how they do it. They put up with a lot. And they’re still here, every day.
It’s amazing to know that people are holding you in their thoughts, and their prayers. Just knowing that there’s love and hope and support everywhere, means you can actually move on, you can actually stand up and think, ‘Do you know what? I’m stronger than what people say I am and I can do better than what people assume I can.’
Names have been changed to protect the identities of Linda and Jack.
People like Linda rely on the Wild Goose every week. But, after being open for eight years and serving over a million meals, it needs refurbishing. Could you donate to our appeal and keep it open for the years ahead?