Shirley is a bouncy, bubbly woman with a gorgeous smile and lots of hugs; she’s always thinking of other people. Although she struggles with addiction, she’s been making real progress as part of a treatment trial in One25 for PTSD and addiction.
I was clever at school. I would’ve loved to do art, design, something like that. But I got bored, fell in with the wrong crowd, started truanting.
Shirley’s stained glass work has been a crucial part of her recovery. She’s a very creative person, and having the focus of a regular class has helped her appreciate that change is possible.
After we shared her first glass piece on Facebook, one of our amazing supporters got in touch to donate her old stained glass materials and tools. (Dora wasn’t very happy with the pseudonym we used back then. She much prefers Shirley!) Shirley was absolutely made up with the box of supplies, and has plans for creating a studio area in her flat.
Last month, she completed her first original piece. Her inspiration was a sympathy card following the sad death of her dog, a faithful companion who’d stuck with her through house fires, abusive relationships, homelessness and addiction. The card really touched her, and she wanted to capture its colours.
Shirley grew up in the time of the Greenham Common protests. She picked the CND peace sign as the focus of her design.
“I don’t like the traditional ‘V’ peace sign. It may be alright from the front, but you’re always giving someone behind the two fingers, aren’t you? That’s not the point of a peace sign in my books.”
Her glass tutor discovered some history for her:
“The peace sign is actually from semaphore, like with flags, did you know that? An N and a D, overlaid on top of each other. I never knew that. Isn’t it cool?”
Her piece took months to complete, as other events in her life spread a dark cloud over her. But she kept returning, kept making the small, essential steps needed to complete the work and proudly take it home.
It’s my escape. A light in my week. I really love this. This is such a big part of my recovery. I’m learning I can be creative, I can express myself and make beautiful things. Aren’t the colours of this glass so gorgeous?
It’s just like my recovery too, this course. I’m learning it takes time. I’m learning I will make mistakes, but I can start again. Or I can make something beautiful from the mistakes; I don’t need to be perfect. I’m learning there will be setbacks, but my tutor, the One25 caseworkers, the volunteers, the amazing donors.
I’m surrounded by love, and I didn’t realise it. Thank you, all of you. It’s your love that empowers me.