Case study 1
Youssef is 29 years of age, single and born in Morocco. He is currently unemployed and lives in the Stoke-on-Trent area in Restart supported single person accommodation. He moved to the UK when he was 9 years old as his mother was keen for him to benefit from Britain’s superior education system. His father who he says was [physically] abusive to him, stayed in Morocco. He says:
“I was a little s**t in school and didn’t do well at all. I left with 4 GCSEs at grades D to F. From there I went to College where I studied IT and Maths. I found I enjoyed cooking and when I was 17 years old I moved to Bristol to become a Chef. I was good at it and before long I was a Commis Chef in a 2 star Michelin restaurant. By the time I was 19 years old I was at the top of my game. I worked in the best places and was even a private Chef for a while earning a fortune. I served the top people and my customers and clients included celebrities such as footballers and film stars. The trouble was, the hours are long and it is extremely hard work!”
“To keep up, like 90% of other Chefs in that industry I was using cocaine. Not just occasionally, but lots. It was not unknown for the Head Chef to prepare lines of cocaine for his team, just to keep them going. Things were OK until I met a girl and when it broke up I was in a mess. I was still taking cocaine, which was costing me £300 per day. My head went, I eventually went back to my mother and family, who sent me to my father in Morocco on a one-way flight – despite the fact that he had abused me”
“Eventually, my visa ran out and he sent me back with £1,000, which I quickly spent on drugs. After a while, my mother kicked me out and I ended up in a hostel on a downhill spiral. I tried to kill myself and was desperate for support such a respite from my life and rehab. But you can’t get this on the NHS. You need money to pay for it and my benefits of £146 every two weeks was being spent on crack cocaine. I eventually moved in with a cousin and I put my CV online.”
“In a short time, I was headhunted by a 3 star London restaurant. In a short time, I was back earning £58K a week. I has suits and a car. I had the ‘life’! BUT the work was hard and the hours were extremely long. I became so stressed and needed more cocaine. After a while, my hair started to fall out and I went back downhill. Without warning, I just moved to the West Midlands to a flat. I had borrowed a family car and after a while they reported it stolen as they could get in touch with me. The Police caught up with me arrested me. I went back to my mum, as I had to get out of where I was living as I had robbed a Crack dealer of £3,000″
“I would have been stabbed and killed if I had stayed there. I still however needed lots of cocaine to survive the pressure. After a while, I went completely off the rails and the Police arrested me after a ‘stand-off’ when I had a knife and was cutting myself. I was charged with lots of offences and ended up in Dovegate Prison. It was there that Restart found me somehow. I only had a 6 week sentence and would have been homeless when I was released and I couldn’t go back to my past. My mother is controlling. My father abuses me and a crack dealer wanted to kill me.”
“I was met at the gates by my support worker and taken to Saltbox in Burslem. Paper work was completed and I was given the keys to a flat! Wow! I also had the support I had been begging for in the past. A whole team of people to support me and be there when I needed them.”
What are you looking for now from Restart? “My flat first as it is somewhere safe for me. I want the chance to meet other people. Good people, not those involved in drugs from my old life. I want someone I can rely on. Someone I can trust to be there to support me when I need it. And the right support, such as career support – how to get a job that I love and won’t kill me”
What are you going to offer? “No drugs. I won’t abuse myself – I won’t go back to the person I was. I have been on a college course about mental health. I want to get a job. I have lots of time to put into me”.
Why does Restart work for you? “The first thing is accommodation. Somewhere to feel safe and secure and warm at night. It is also the support package that is available, covering things about drug abuse and how to look after health. Then there are practical things such as help to get a job. I suppose the key thing is ‘time’ – time to understand what I really want and time to go and get it for myself”.