Overcoming alcohol abuse to paint a brighter future

Overcoming alcohol abuse to paint a brighter future

RIA Smith has overcome years of alcohol abuse to fix her sights firmly on the future.

She has her own tenancy for a flat she shares with one-year-old French bulldog / chihuahua cross Lula, a part time job and is about to enrol on a painting and decorating course to gain the qualifications she needs to start her own business.

Ria is in a good place but it’s been no easy ride for the 25-year-old who started drinking as a teenager. At her worst she was drinking 15 pints and a litre of spirits a day and ended up in hospital.

She gives the credit for being able to turn her life around to Carr Beck, the UK’s only wet hostel for women. Run by Leeds based charity Turning Lives Around which aims to prevent homelessness amongst the most vulnerable, Carr Beck provides accommodation and round the clock support to women with alcohol dependency, encouraging them to control and reduce their drinking and get their lives back on track.

Ria lived at Carr Beck for over a year and with their support landed a part-time job with Clean Start, a social enterprise specialising in deep cleaning and decorating which has put her on the path to college and ultimately her own painting and decorating business. She has been renting her flat for six months and five months ago realised a life long dream by taking in Lula.

“I find painting and decorating very therapeutic and really enjoy it. I want to start my own decorating business and will be starting at Leeds City College in September initially for six weeks to cover the basics but with the chance to go on and do longer courses to develop my skills and learn new techniques,” enthused Ria.

“I love living in my flat, having my own space, looking after myself and being able to shut out the world and just chill with Lula. I’ve always wanted to have a dog and now I have. I’m doing really well with controlling my drinking too. It’s taken a lot of will power and ongoing support from the people at Carr Beck but I’ve got my life back on track and am in a really good positive place.”