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Lara’s story

Nobody knew me when I moved to Bristol eight years ago. It was my alcoholism and my crime that led me here to start afresh. But it didn’t take long till they escalated and then everyone knew me.

“When addiction grips you, family can fall away.”

People kind of offer support but I just needed money for my next fix. I knew I could make quick money in sex work. I remember my first night. I was thinking ‘How am I actually going do this?’ I felt disgusted with myself. I needed to be drunk to go through with it and my alcoholism worsened.

It’s dangerous most of the time; late nights, random people turning up. I’ve been badly attacked four times. Men get violent or don’t want to pay or rape women. I’ve even been locked in somebody’s flat… You don’t know who is going to get out of that car or if you’re going to come out alive. Every night could be your last walking the streets.

“Although we’re all walking the same street we can be worlds apart.”

I’d heard about the drop-in at One25 but it’s hard to trust others when you feel like there’s you and there’s ‘normal’ people. But the more I persisted, the more One25 were able to give me the skills and support to start to move away from the streets.

Some people need more support than others, some are a bit more broken than others. Sometimes my own sickness has led me back to sex work. I’d given up drugs but I began to get addicted to the money. I thought I was ok because I was clean. I’d slip back into going out instead of keeping myself safe, meeting other addicts and then obviously that escalates. And then I’d be back at One25.

“I just want to say that I think One25 are doing a really good job.”

They’ve helped so many people step away from the streets. Thanks to One25, I’ve managed to get through the treatment programme and I’ve been doing alright ever since. Now I’ve stepped away I can see it all from a different angle and I’ve come back well. I’m keeping connected to a support group and we’re all heading in the same drug-free direction. But it’s hard living with a sickness of the mind. I can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow.

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