15 April 2024

Building connection: Penny and Scott

His story goes to show that there is always hope and, with the right support, everyone can recover.

Penny, Team Leader at WithYou in East Ayrshire

Scott's story

Penny Wallace, Team Leader at WithYou in East Ayrshire, shares Scott’s* story

When did you first meet?

"I met Scott a few months before the pandemic. He had been using heroin for about 15 years and had been in and out of prison for most of that time. Scott came to us because he wanted to make a change. I remember him telling me, “I’m just so lonely.” It was such a devastating thing to hear. 

"I helped Scott to get a prescription for Methadone and we had weekly appointments when we would work on psychosocial interventions to help him deal with triggers, cravings and setbacks."

What happened next?

"Lockdown happened. Our service moved to telephone appointments but, after a few weeks, I lost contact with Scott. 

"At the start of 2022, we started working in partnership with another charity that sends trained staff out to help people on the streets. I asked them to keep an eye out for Scott - and they found him, the very same day. He was homeless and begging in the door of a local shop. One of the team told him, “Penny wants to see you.”

"So, after about a year and a half, Scott came back to our service. He later told me that he came in that day because I was asking for him. He remembered me, just like I remembered him.

"It had been about a year and a half since I had last seen Scott, and he had clearly been having a hard time. I could have cried at the sight of him. He was about three stone lighter, and he told me he was injecting heroin up to six times a day. I later learned that he had overdosed several times in that period. It was a miracle he was still alive."

What support did you put in place?

"I got straight on the phone. Within a few hours, I had arranged a new methadone prescription for Scott, registered him with the housing options team at the local council, and made an appointment to test for blood-borne viruses. He was provided with temporary accommodation and I was able to get him clean clothes, a kettle, and other essentials.

"After a while, I helped Scott to get a volunteering position within the local recovery community- he had never had a job before, so this was a huge moment for him. He really flourished in this role, using his experience to help others. I wasn’t surprised to see him doing so well. I always knew he had potential.

"I asked Scott why he stopped engaging with our service during lockdown and he told me it was because he lost his phone. Losing a phone is a major inconvenience - we’ve all been there - but it almost cost Scott his life. Without access to our service, he went back to using heroin and everything spiralled from there. All because of a lost phone." 

What is life like now?

"I am so proud of how far Scott has come in the past two years. He has just started college, where he’s studying health and social care. His ultimate goal is to work for WithYou!

"And it brings me so much joy to tell you that the man who once told me he was “so lonely” isn’t lonely anymore. Quite the opposite - he is in a solid relationship and he has his hands full with his lovely baby girl!

"Scott was a habitual heroin user who really suffered through the pandemic. But his story goes to show that there is always hope and, with the right support, everyone can recover.

"I've worked at WithYou for more than five years now. I am proud to say that, alongside my colleagues at the East Ayrshire hub, I have helped many people in that time. And one person whose story will always stick with me, is Scott."

*Scott's name has been changed

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