Carr Beck: From homeless dependency to university success

HOMELESS and dependent on alcohol and drugs, Mia Flynn was stuck in the chaos and despair of addiction for eight years before realisation dawned and she wanted to change.

Mia fell into drinking and taking drugs when she was just 16, getting involved with the wrong crowd plus a highly abusive relationship with an older man deepening her addiction and stealing and shoplifting to feed her habit. It was while she was staying at a boyfriend’s mum’s house that she was first referred to Carr Beck.

“Life was really chaotic at the time. Carr Beck gave me a flat in Chapeltown giving me somewhere safe and secure to live that was mine after the insecurity of living in other people’s houses. They also helped me sort things out. Life calmed down, I had a home, attended courses to help me control my drinking and started working,” recalled Mia.

With life looking good, Mia took on her own tenancy of a flat in Chapel Allerton but having money in her pocket after rent and bills had been paid proved too much of a temptation. She started buying drugs, drinking more and self-harming.

Turning up drunk at work one day with wine in her bag, Mia lost her job. She then lost her flat and, on the verge of homelessness again, she went back to Carr Beck.

“They were there for me. Found me somewhere to live and tried to get me back on track but I was all over the place. I’d go out doing things and wouldn’t remember. The police turned up and I was in court a lot. I was in a really low place,” said Mia.

“Then it hit me. The way I was going, I was either going to succeed in killing myself or I would end up in prison. I didn’t want to keep on living that way so I called my support worker Eileen.”

That call was the key to Mia’s recovery. Eileen booked her in for detox with Leeds Addiction Unit and put her in contact with the Alcohol and Drugs Service plus Multiple Choice. On ‘tag’ with a 7pm curfew Mia started getting into a routine, filling her days with support groups and volunteering with charitable organisation Together Women. She hasn’t drank since starting detox on June 17, 2014.

It was while she was at Together Women and attending a workshop on domestic abuse that she was inspired to go to university to study criminology. Three months into her recovery she took an Access course as her gateway to university and secured a place at Durham.

Since then, she has achieved a BA in Criminology and is working towards a Master’s in Social Work. She has also passed her driving test and has her own car plus a lovely home she has furnished herself and which she shares with her dog. She’s also done a sky dive, enjoys travelling and has started giving lived-experience talks to services and criminal justice organisations in Leeds.

“Without the support of Carr Beck I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today. They never judged me for how my life was. They were understanding and just accepting of me, trying to help and reduce harm where they could. This meant I always felt I could be honest with them,” said Mia.

“I haven’t drank for seven years and have been clean of drugs for six and Carr Beck has been there for me every step of the way.”

Mia added: “I feel I am now a productive member of society but I don't ever let myself be fooled. I always remind myself that my addiction controlled me, I had no control over drink or drugs, and that I only have this life now because I was able to move on from my addiction. However, I'm under no illusion; if I were to drink or take drugs again, I would very quickly end up back where I was before.”

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