Picure of Stuart in 2019

"Growing up in a deprived area of Manchester, I found myself getting in to trouble and using drugs as a teenager and a young adult. This has helped me to understand the life issues young people and adults face today. We all have different stories to tell, however my story and life started to change once I accepted I was stuck in a cycle of crime and prison and nothing was changing.

At the beginning of 2002, I started accessing support services, got clean from substance use and began changing the people, places, and things I had associated with for many years. I attended self-help groups and started to break the chains.

It was tough. I was out of my comfort zone and like a fish out of water. It was important for me to surround myself with who would people to support me and would help me do things I found difficult to do on my own; I was 32 and attending college, again felt like a fish out of water, but I persevered and gained qualifications in Counselling, Health and Social Care.

This increased my self-confidence and self-esteem and I found I was enjoying life.

In 2003, I applied for mentor training at a charity that helped offenders on release from prison, very similar to Footprints, and volunteered for 18 months with them,  gaining enough experience and confidence to apply for a job as a substance misuse worker in the Criminal Justice System. I was successful! I loved this role and being a part of helping and watching people change their lives.

I left in 2016 after 11 successful and rewarding years, to join The Footprints Project and continue to support people away from crime and substance use amongst other issues. 

My passion is to help people better themselves, improve their quality of life. I believe, with the right support, anyone can make positive changes.

My new role in Footprints includes supporting our volunteer mentors, which I am enjoying; I can recall being given my first volunteering chance and the many times when I have helped someone work through tough times, watching them grow and work towards change. This has been extremely satisfying for me.

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Volunteering for me was my way to gain experience and helped set me on my career path. We all come from different walks of life with different strengths and weaknesses and we can all make a difference to another person. I am looking forward to supporting the volunteers and watching them grow too, together we can make huge changes to others."