Category Archives: Articles

Czech Student Visit

In September we had a visit from four students from the Czech Republic, Sabina, Teresa, Anna and Lucie. They had a placement within B.O.B for two months as volunteers. Within this time they visited and volunteered in all the bob projects.

They all had bubbly personalities and were really interested in what we did as a charity and were enthusiastic and as soon as they started they were interacting with service users and throwing themselves into their new roles. They were all studying in the field of addiction, psychology and drama therapy. At the end of their stay they delivered a drama therapy workshop at Bob’s place for staff, volunteers and service users.

The workshop was really interesting and they used a story with lots different techniques to bring the group together. This included role play, improvisation, mime and movement and drawing. The experience was interesting and enjoyable and everyone who took part seemed to enjoy it.

It was really great having them visit and the brought a lot within the short time they were with us and I think all the managers would agree they will be missed.

News from BoB Acorn Hall, Czech students visit

News from BoB Acorn Hall,

Czech students visit.

Sabina, Anna, Teraza and Lucy were a huge success here at Acorn Hall. The Service Users really seemed to be engrossed by the way the Girls from the Czech Republic engaged with them.

All of the Girls mucked in by organizing a regular Quiz at our drop in Centre here at Acorn Hall. They also helped to ensure that out Service Users were always surrported and encouraged to join in.

From the moment they stepped through the door until they left for home. They were always seen to be doing something to aid and benefit Service Users.

They are a credit to their Country. I hope they have allgone away with some experience and knowledge of the work of which BOB does on a regular basis.

Barry Forest


Service Manager Acorn Hall

Riley’s Story

Me and mum’s new boyfriend just didn’t get on. He was the opposite of my dad in every way which I suppose was enough reason for me not to like him. Anyway to cut a horrible story short, mum chose him, so I had to leave.

It wasn’t so bad at first. I came to London to stay with an uncle but before long I realised that he was an even bigger drinker than mum’s new boyfriend and had a bigger temper too. So 3 months later I was homeless. I made friends with other young people on the streets and the drug using was just part of the street life package.

I’d never forgiven mum for letting me go but I’d never stopped loving her either. When I got the text from my sister to say that mum had been in a tragic accident I properly hit rock bottom.

By the time I found Blenheim I was injecting heroin and weighed about 7 stone. I was arrested for shop lifting pretty much every time I tried. It was nice to get some attention though. Sad but true.

That was last year. Everything is different now. I’m at college and have somewhere decent to stay. I haven’t used drugs for 24 weeks and 3 days and I want to keep on counting. It’s also good to get some attention for doing something good for a change.

Basir’s Story

The hardest thing for me is the guilt because of what I put my family through. The more they believed in me, the more pressure I felt, so just I lied more and injected more to get through.

I started using crack when I was 16. There was a lot of pressure on me to do well at school and I didn’t. I didn’t seem to do anything well apart from get into trouble and fight with my family. My dad gave up on me first, he had a lot more sense.

I suppose Blenheim became my new family. A different bunch of people who believed in me and supported me. At first I let them down too, missing appointments and not opening up when I was there, until I realised that it was only me letting myself down and that I could do life differently if I really wanted to.

My key worker deserves a medal for his patience. He could see that custody and DRRs weren’t working for me and fought to get funding for me to go to rehab. I went back to Blenheim after doing the 12 week rehab programme. The first positive thing I had ever achieved. I am now doing voluntary work and have been clean for 6 months.

I am so chuffed with myself and even my dad is talking to me again now.

Geraldine’s Story

I came to London 25 years ago when I was a naive 20 years old. I was on my own but that was what I choose. I thought that it would be better that way. I was trying to build a new life after having to give up my baby for adoption, I wasn’t married you see.

I had called her Mary after my mother who had passed away when I was 5. At first I tried not to think about Mary but that didn’t work so instead I imagined that she was with me all the time, invisible to the world but not to me.

I worked and lived in a large hotel. It suited me, having people all around helped to ease the loneliness and numbed the reality out of me. Most of us were taking some drug or another. The hours were long and I suppose we all had something that we were running away from or wanted to forget.

I’m ashamed to say that I cannot remember my first encounter with Blenheim. I was pretty messed up then. This past year has been the hardest and most incredible of my life. I am working part-time now, I have friends and my own place. It’s small but there’s only me and for once that feels ok.

Ella’s Story

I guess you could say that I had a lucky escape. I am 20 now and thanks to Blenheim, I am back on track. I had what I thought was a pretty idyllic childhood. My father was a very successful and wealthy businessman and I grew up with my two brothers in Chelsea. I didn’t think that I was spoilt because all my friends were just like me.

I did well at school and my private tutors were keeping me on schedule for a place at Oxford.

I ‘crashed’ when my parents separated when I was 17. I was shocked, devastated and angry and for the first time in my life I felt vulnerable. I started drinking to excess and then started using cocaine. I managed to keep it all hidden from my parents, or maybe they were just too preoccupied to notice. I was also falling behind with my studies and I saw the life that I had wished for quickly slipping away.

I walked past Blenheim’s Insight project one day and walked straight in the next. I was amazed at how friendly and non-judgemental everyone was. I suppose that I had always been afraid of drug addicts and alcoholics. Yet here I was, one myself and I realised how judgemental I had been. I went to the project every week after that. Blenheim helped me to identify the patterns of my drug use and drinking and to understand the triggers and cravings.

I am now in my 2nd year at Oxford and completely drug free although I do have the odd glass of wine. I am learning so much at University but it will never come close to what I have learnt from my time at Blenheim.

Outside Edge

On the outside looking in;
God I hate this place.
Don’t wanna be here.
Don’t wanna show my face!

Don’t even wanna tell you this;
you couldn’t feel the same
aint gonna tell you my stuff,
‘Cause my heart is full of shame.

So I stand on the outside edge,
an awkward little drone,
I’ve been here all my life you see;
outside and all alone.

Way back when – when I’s a kid
I’d watch the others play,
packman, kiss-chase, tick-a-nick,
drinking nectar of the day.

I wanna drink that nectar
but my cup is kinda dry,
I watch and want and want and hate
as love and laughter pass me by.

Yep my cup is kinda dusty
thirst gnawing from within,
so when darkness comes a knocking
I sneak him gently in.

That fellah with the cloak and horns
brings toys and games galore
brings warmth and laughs and love with him
and promices of more.

“Fuck life’s nectar my bambino!
– Av a glug on this…
Don’t be bothered with that crap.
Life’s nectar tastes like piss!”

“Av a little snort of this
yer have a chase of that…
you might as well go pin it now
… ’cause there aint no going back!”

“Together we’re alive and free
with you my sweet belong!”
We dance and laugh and sing and play
we feel so right it’s wrong.

“So, you want in my love?
In from the outside edge?
Come settle in my arms sweet child…
I’ll ease your frantic head.”

In his arms I settle,
cosy for a hit.
Two as one in dreams I dance
in the thick of it.

“Did I mention the small matter?”
he whispers holdin’ me warm and tight.
“This friendship it don’t come for free,
my little, lovely mite.”

His first demands are only small,
I can handle that;
few bob here and there is cool,
but greedily he sat…

he sits there hungry, demanding more;
more of what I’ve got.
“I thought you were my friend!” I plead
“of you I won’t get shot!”

His visits are more frequent,
always knocking at my door.
He no longer asks for payment,
he steals it – grabbing more.

He taps his fingers greedily
and chuckles “Pay up kid!”
So I give him all I’ve got to give;
my very will to live.

He takes my heart, my soul, my mind
and when I’m almost done,
he wields his knife, his last demand
and away he steals my son.

The world it crashes, dark descends,
my heart it cracks in two.
Bleeding with the pain of love
I know not what to do!

I’m invited to this fellowship
and I start to feel free.
They talk of hope and honesty
and say it’s ok to be me.

I start to share my shameful tale
and I see I aint alone.
I start to chat and laugh and play,
start feeling all at home.

But he’s always lurking in the shade
licking hungry lips.
He feasts upon my fear and shame
his ultimate of hits.

Fear drove me to the pits of hell,
shame came and turned the key.
Still my addict lies in waiting
watching eagerly.

I want freedom from addiction.
Freedom just to be me.
Freedom from ol’ satan
and negativity.

So I go to outside edge
set up for you and me,
who want a little more from life
and want to feel free.

All this chat of being;
on the outside looking in,
of inner voids and empty cups
and satan’s lusty gin

Well I give it the ol’ fingers!
Shoot satan in the head.
I aint dancing down that path again
I wanna live instead.

I can still feel feary
bit insecure, and shy.
But that’s ok I tell myself
’cause outside edge know why

They all know where I came from.
With boney claws he reached;
into their lives, their hearts, their souls
and touched a piece of each.

So new horizons streached ‘afore me
I step off fears ledge
and know I’m welcome as I am
here at outside edge.

Stepping out through fear
unknown ideas hatch,
so I can wield the carving knife
and Satan meets his match.

Sonya Hale. 2013


I have been a massive disappointment to my parents. I was a cute, blond haired and blue eyed boy called Clive and I knew from the age of 9 that I wanted to be a girl. Secretly slipping on mum’s dresses and shoes was enough in my teens but in my mid-twenties I made the decision to have surgery.

That was also when I started using heroin. I was just so lost and lonely. For years I had felt trapped in the wrong body and then I felt trapped in a body that I no longer recognised. By this time I had moved away from my family to ease their embarrassment and shame. My drug use increased and I started injecting heroin into my new body which felt foreign to me. I didn’t see myself as a man or a woman, I saw myself as a freak.

It was on Christmas Eve last year that I finally walked through Blenheim’s door. I was in bad shape after being attacked in the street. There was a nurse on site and after an assessment I was given a key worker or miracle worker as I call him. I am slowly coming to terms with who I am. I accept now that I am not a bad person.

Fatou’s Story

My mum died the day I was born. Complications and loss of blood. So it was just me and my dad. I owed him, he used to say.

He has been dead for 8 years now and I am slowly starting to believe that he won’t be able to touch me again and that perhaps I will have a chance to love and be loved instead of feeling dirty, ashamed and helpless.

Last year I met Bill at my doctor’s surgery. Bill worked for Blenheim. He was there every week when I would go to get my script. Every week I talked to him a little bit more and after 6 months I gave in to Bill and went to Blenheim. It was in the Wednesday Women’s group that I spoke about my father for the very first time. It was like the words took a hold of me, like I was in a silent movie and an actress was saying my lines. Then my tears took over and I didn’t want to stop until I had wept him out of me.

Last week I did something I thought I would never do. I went out on a date. We are going out again next week.