06 March 2024

Reclaiming life at Greenslate Community Farm

A woman in a black shirt stands smiling in a field, holding a leash attached to a calm donkey.
I can’t explain it but I know that it’s the farm that’s changed me.

Susan, Wigan & Leigh

Susan's story

Where did it all start?

“I started drinking when I was in my teens, but that was just for fun. By the time I was 30 years old though, it had become a problem. I remember going on holidays and hiding bottles of pop filled with vodka in my suitcase, as I couldn’t go without a drink.

“Although I was drinking far too much, it was manageable. But then the COVID-19 pandemic came, and my dad passed away. That’s when everything started getting worse. I was drinking a pint of vodka a day and I started living in my bedroom. 

“One day, I was rushed into hospital with alcohol poisoning, and they sent me to a detox unit. I stopped drinking for three weeks, but as soon as it was over and I could go home, I bought a bottle of vodka.

“I was coasting along, but then my mum got ill, and a year after my dad died, she was gone too. That’s when my drinking really escalated. I couldn’t leave home, so I’d ring delivery services and order 6 bottles of vodka at a time. At my peak, I was drinking over 2 pints of vodka a day."

A daffodil in focus

What support did you seek? 

“My brother was really worried about me, and when he couldn’t get hold of me, he gained access to my home to see if I was okay. I wasn’t - and I was rushed to hospital, where I nearly died." 

“After I was discharged, I decided to come to Greenslate Community Farm and I started their 12-week recovery programme."

What is life like now?

“It did the trick. I’m a different person now -  everyone says there’s a change in my demeanour and confidence. It’s the farm that’s done it - the animals, the gardening, the programme, I can’t explain it but I know that it’s the farm that’s changed me.

“I obviously still get cravings, but I’ve got strategies in place now. I do something every single day, I do colouring, and I write poems. I can’t and won’t ever go back to who I was.”

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