'Proud' woman overcomes addiction to become 'inspirational' volunteer
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 June 2018
A woman who endured battles with drink, drugs and abusive relationships has turned her life around, and attributes her success story to volunteering for a Weston charity.
Sharon Charles, from Weston, has battled with addiction since the age of 12, and has spoken of her time flirting with death in ‘the gutter’ and how lending time to Addaction proved a ‘turning point’ to getting her life in order and reconnecting with her daughter.
The 44-year-old has spent two years volunteering for the charity, in the Boulevard, and has found supporting other addicts has boosted her own recovery.
She has shared her experiences to mark Volunteers’ Week, which concludes today (Thursday).
Sharon said: “Volunteering was a turning point for me. I’d been in and out of services, never quite managing to maintain abstinence.
“Alcohol and drugs were an issue since I was 12 years old. My mum drank and my dad left when I was three so I looked after myself and my brother.
“I had a lot of violent relationships, people that put me down in the gutter even more.
“I was in and out of prison, and nearly died several times before finding some help.
“But I ended up in another violent relationship and I relapsed and found myself right back down there.
“Then Addaction helped me to do things differently by getting qualifications and volunteering.
“I’d been knocked down all my life, but here I was back in the classroom proving to myself I could do stuff; that I could help others too. I had purpose.”
Sharon volunteers twice a week, assessing new clients and running support groups, giving her a new-found confidence and a wide array of skills.
She added: “Meeting people newly through the door, encouraging them to keep coming, seeing them grow every day getting better and more confident in themselves, getting their families back together – it’s just amazing work to support.
“I lost contact with my children because of alcohol, so seeing others getting that back, being able to trust each other again is wonderful.
“These days it’s not just me who is proud of me. I get to see my daughter regularly now and she’s really proud of me too. There are no words for that.”
Addaction’s life skills co-ordinator Christine Barton said: “Since joining Addaction, I have seen Sharon develop in confidence and become a valued member of the charity.
“Sharon is very enthusiastic and willing to challenge herself and take on board new skills.
“She is an inspiration to those going through services as to what can be achieved.”
Sharon now hopes to help more people battling addiction in the town achieve the dream of being clean, in addition to ensuring their safety.
She said: “My personal mission is to get all the dry houses in Weston to have at least one person who is trained to use naloxone – the take home kits that you use to stop someone overdosing. That could really save lives.”
For more information, visit www.addaction.org.uk