Former drug addict George now helping others kick habit

George O'Donnell with volunteer Mark Hodgkinson

George O'Donnell with volunteer Mark Hodgkinson

First published in News by

A WIRRAL dad who battled with drug addiction is now reaching out to others with similar issues.

George O’Donnell from Prenton turned to local homeless charity Wirral Churches’ Ark Project two years ago after he spiralled into drug dependency.

The 48-year-old had seen his drug taking escalate from a weekend activity to a full-blown addiction to heroin and crack cocaine, even turning to stealing from his family to fund his habit.

However, George became part of the Ark Angel project which provides supported living to those in need of guidance and was able to begin his recovery.

And after taking on voluntary work and building up his qualifications, the former electrician was offered a full-time role as a mentoring co-ordinator with Ark Angel Housing.

George said: “It was the birth of my beautiful daughter in 1994 which made me want to get out of the destructive state I was in.

"I needed to be there for my daughter and to build the bridges with my family which had been burnt by me stealing from them.

"I was placed on maintenance methadone programme to assist me in coming off the heroin and crack cocaine.

“During my time at Ark Angel a Wirral charity called ‘Involve Northwest’ approached Ark through their ReachOut programme.

"The programme helps vulnerable and hard-to-reach people back into work through an informal approach to job searching, helping with CV writing, interview training and on-going support – things that most people can take for granted."

ArkAngel Supported Housing is made up of seven two bedroom houses in the Birkenhead and Wallasey area, and six self-contained flats for clients who are ready for ‘semi-independent’ living.

Residents can stay for between six and twelve months approximately depending on their individual circumstances.

Wirral Ark Angel works with the ReachOut programme, which launched in 2006 and has since helped more than 3,700 people into jobs.

And George is now looking forward to helping those who have found themselves in a difficult situation.

He said: “To be offered a mentoring position at Ark Angel means a lot, to be able to help others suffering with addictions, depression or people who have found themselves in a bad position through no fault of their own.

“I now concentrate on giving back by helping others. I have set up a men’s football team and work in conjunction with Wirral Churches boat yard project on Corporate Road in Birkenhead.

"They also run a bike project which is designed to promote health as well as renovation of push-bikes that otherwise would have ended up wasted and scrapped.”

For more information on the ReachOut Partnership and Involve Northwest visit www.involvenorthwest.org.uk or call 0151 644 1100.

For more information on Ark Angels visit www.wirralark.org.uk or call 0151 649 0111

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