When I first came to Surry Hills (seven years ago) I was addicted to marijuana. I was addicted for maybe two years. Then I moved away for a year to Concord Hospital to detox and rehab. Counselling is the best thing you can do. It helps you understand why you started, what makes you do it, what triggers you, and then you can work to keep away from it. Doing some hardcore detox and rehab is good for anybody and I’d recommend Concord Hospital to anyone.
After a year, I came back here and I got a job here. I make coffee and tea and talk to people. I love to interact with the community and talk to people in the community and mainly have a chat about anything they want to talk about. I love the people. The genuine people who care about the community and what happens and want to make a difference.
I’ve found since new management have taken over this year, people want to come and get involved. We’ve had more volunteers. We do gentle exercise class now Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We do ceramics Friday mornings. We’re about to start karaoke, and I believe and we’re going to have bingo.
Surry Hills has become safer since the police have been around a lot more and they’re doing a lot of more cleaning up. I feel a lot safer. When I first moved in here this place was dodgy. You couldn’t walk out the door without standing on syringes. We would have people in the stairwells having sex. But since the security, the cameras and the police presence, it’s just changed. In the last year it’s actually become a safer community.
I suppose I’ve struggled with marijuana use since the age of 11. I’ve only been clean now for two years. I think it’s got a lot to do with being here in the community and getting the support from the community. If it wasn’t for the support I got from the community, I wouldn’t be off it to be honest. I just think that I’m not interested anymore. I’ve just grown. I’ve decided I want to grow and be changed and the people that help me grow and change are the people in the community. If it wasn’t for their help, like the pop-up drug stores and stuff like that happening, I don’t think I would have ever stopped. I have five beautiful children and two grandchildren. They’re my life at the moment and my little baby girl, Ellie, my little dog.