Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I have never until relatively recently understood the importance of this question.

Five years ago I was sitting in a cell, a guest of her majesty's prison system, I can quite vividly remember being unable to envisage a future for myself. My present was so chaotic and unbearably full of pain and suffering and that pain and suffering had muddied the waters of my perception of self and my future ambitions.

I had no support or home to come out to and I was convinced that at the ripe old age of thirty five and for all intents and purposes that my life was effectively over.

September is National recovery month, a time for us to reflect on our journey thus far. To recover is to return to a normal state of health, mind or strength.

As a social enterprise staffed entirely by people in recovery from homelesness, mental ill health, substance misuse, domestic violence and other challenging and life altering issues, recovery is of massive importance to us.

Most if not all of my fellow partner participants have unfortunately had a similar tale to mine, Tales of chaotic lives filled with trauma ,loss or grief.

We are all in recovery to varying degrees, but what does that “recovery” look and feel like to us?

What I have ultimately learned myself as an individual in recovery is that I will always be an individual in recovery, and that can oftentimes be a bitter pill to swallow.

Also hard to accept is the need for personal support to enable that recovery, sometimes life-long support.

The old adage “time heals all wounds” is correct to a degree, some wounds however cannot be forgotten,some knowledge so unbearable and traumatic that it compounds one's recovery.

Time can indeed help to begin to put some of those terrible memories behind us or at least become manageable to the point that we can lead fulfilling lives,but that all depends on what we fill our time with.

Here at Printed by Us we are given an entirely new repertoire of skills and tools with which to positively spend our time.

Trained to be screenprinters, mugs and garments creators, fulfilling online orders and working in our shop or pop ups, we join a team of like-minded individuals with similar experiences to us.

We are entered into a bespoke and individually tailored wellbeing programme, offered free counselling, peer support and assigned a personal support worker to help with any issues that we need assistance with.

We are allocated paid employment hours but most importantly we are given a place to be, a workplace that caters to our diversity and sometimes complex needs,

We are given a chance to live truly fulfilling lives.

I can say with total confidence that Printed by Us (second to my own determination) has been the entity most responsible for my personal recovery and for me remaining clean and sober today.

There are dozens of us here at our Printed by Us family that have all had our lives changed positively and permanently by our work.

Personally I dread to think where I would be now on my recovery journey if not for the life changing support and guidance that I have received from day one in this unique, extraordinary and one of a kind project.