06 March 2024

Breaking down barriers: Giving women the access they need

A joyful woman with braided hair sits on a park bench, smiling at the camera, with sunlit trees and yellow flowers in the background.
I can't change anything that happened but it's not what defines me - today is what defines me.

Kelly, Darlington

Kelly's story


Where did it all start?

“I’d gone through postnatal depression and almost died from giving birth to my little boy. I had to be strong, so I just masked everything that was going on with me and drugs.

The day I ruined myself was by picking up crack cocaine again. It was just a release for me. It took away all those emotions and those feelings. In 2022, my children were removed from my care. It had such a detrimental effect on my mental health. I didn't want to be here any more. I couldn’t manage day-to-day without cocaine. 

I just wanted not to feel any more. There was so much going on with my mental health - so much hurt. My toxic relationship - he was a heavy drinker, and there was domestic violence. A lot was going on in my life. The person that I was … well, I was very chaotic, I dealt with things in the wrong way. I was irrational and up in the air."

What support did you seek?

“I was very blasé about cocaine. No one knew I was taking it every day. It was just part of my life for such a long time. My job was a means to an end to drugs. I eventually told work about it. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up - it’s better to be honest.

I came to WithYou absolutely broken. It was the hardest time of my life. I wanted my children home. I wanted to do anything I had to do. I wanted anything and anyone to help me sort my life out, and thankfully I got that help."

Who introduced you to WithYou?

“Keeping Families Together and social services told me about WithYou. I saw a lady called Heather and she became my Key Worker. She was amazing. Such a mother figure and someone who understands and had that belief in me. As opposed to running to a drug or running away, I'd come here to talk and get some clarity rather than knocking on a dealer's door. I knew I was getting better and healing and making the right choices and decisions. 

Being around people who understand you, who aren't judging you … you have to do the work, but you've got guidance. It’s not about people looking down on you for your mistakes or choices. They’re giving you that second chance when you need it the most."

What is life like now? 

“Visible recovery is massive, especially from people with lived experience who are relatable and not going to hide. I can't change anything that happened but it's not what defines me - today is what defines me. I’m proud of myself. I’m grounded and content and positive and I love myself and the people around me.”

Kelly sitting on a bench, leaning her head on her arm and smiling at the camera

What’s your message to others who may be experiencing challenges?

“It is achievable and doable, and I’m living proof of it. I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today without WithYou. It took hard work, resilience and a strong head on my shoulders. 

If you’re in this situation or similar circumstances and you want a better life than waking up every day needing a substance, if you want more than that, then there’s support here that will help you get to that point.”

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