I had just dropped out of university. I was in my third year but it all felt a bit pointless. I didn’t feel anything I was doing was benefiting anyone and there was lots going on in my life around that time. I was dealing with a lot of issues, addiction being just one of them.
A girl from my synagogue had been to Leeds Wood Recycling and she told me about them. I took her recommendation and signed up. My dad’s a joiner so I guess I was always around wood and I’ve always been a creative person.
I was happy to be learning again and making things and it was nice to have something to do, take my mind off things and learn. Self-sustainability is a big thing for me, not having to buy everything.
Everyone was great and I made friends. I felt like I’d been thrown into exactly what I needed at the time which was confidence and faith in myself. I hadn’t had that many friends over the past few years and it was just nice to come somewhere and feel supported. I finally felt I was doing something which had some purpose.”
Leeds Wood Recycling are a social enterprise that gives training experience and opportunities to out of work individuals by utilising recycled wood to create various products to sell. With support from Leeds Community Foundation, they were able to tackle social isolation by running an increased number of sessions and courses.
“I started volunteering at Leeds Wood Recycling early last year. I was given the opportunity to work three days a week. It’s great to be working again as I had been living on the streets in London for five months. At one point I was close to taking my own life, thinking of throwing myself into the Thames, but later in that same week I went to a homeless meal at a church. I hadn’t been in a church for about 40 years.
During my time in London I used to sell The Big Issue. I saved up all my money so I could afford a place to stay. I put an advert out and got a call from someone in Leeds who was willing to take me in. While here, the job centre was pushing me to get work. I then found Leeds Wood Recycling and my journey started there.
The people here have been a huge lifeline for me and this place is fantastic. People who are stuck in a rut, like I was, it gives them a place to come, to get out of the house. A lot of people these days don’t see anyone from week to months and this place helps, it keeps people going. I’ve gone from sleeping in a shop doorway to living in a house, volunteering, a job and raising money for charity to having a rescue dog. I’m in a good space.”