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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

My life was developing like a Polaroid picture until I received support

This opinion piece is over 5 years old

Charity worker Andy Weir talks of his experiences of the care system - good and bad

I really enjoy my job as a peer support worker with a homeless charity – it’s challenging but rewarding. I’ve got a nice flat in Glasgow, and I feel that life is good.

I imagine that most people who meet me these days would be shocked to learn that I was once addicted to alcohol and was living on the streets – and it wasn’t even that long ago.

My start in life was bad – I was in care. I suffered from abuse by the people who were supposed to be caring for me. Both were difficult - however one care home was particularly problematic as I was surrounded by older negative influences. I saw and experienced a lot of stuff in care. We were encouraged to never question anything, and I suppose in a way I was taken from a chaotic environment and placed in another. I went in problematic and came out of care at 16, no life skills, confused, scared.

Life started to change for the better when I hit my rock bottom through alcohol dependency, homeless and desperate. I needed help for a long time but never knew how to, I went into a residential rehab and began my journey of recovery. Through counselling in the rehab, I began to realise that my time in care and before also it’s got to be said as I've learned in recovery to learn and accept my part in the way my life turned out.

Andy Weir
Andy Weir

This is the way I see my life. I hold no grudge against the system, I honestly don't. I was a difficult child, in care or otherwise. I believe the system shaped my development, but the same system has given me another chance in life, in terms of funding my time in rehab which lasted over 15 months. I can't put a price on my recovery, but I don't think that's important as I believe I've paid the price beforehand.

Future Pathways has been so important to me. It has enabled me to live the comfortable life I live today, and I've been reassured about my own abilities and skills, encouraged to college and ultimately to work, I can speak to my support coordinator on an even keel, she doesn't judge or assume anything, I can share my issues no problem. I'm consider myself very lucky to be in the position in in today and FP has had a huge influence. It puts the faith back in people.

Future Pathways has reassured me that there are genuinely good people and services in the world. I've been supported and encouraged through college and empowered to apply for jobs. I now work full time as a homeless outreach support worker, a role in which I use my lived experience to support and enhance the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness.

This really is a truly privileged position to be in. This wouldn’t have been possible without encouragement and being made aware of my own qualities and skills. My support coordinator understands me and she seems to see the world as I do, which is a great quality in a person.

I would encourage anyone to get in touch with Future Pathways. I was developing like a Polaroid picture, surrounded by darkness and negativity - my past has always dragged me down. Now, I'm been supported and encouraged to look forward as a way of achieving my goals. I've also learned that if opportunity doesn't knock, then build a door.

Andy Weir is a peer support worker for a homeless charity, and has received support from Future Pathways – Scotland’s in care survivor support fund