Two men who have overcome their demons take on the walk of their lives next month to help raise awareness of substance abuse.
Danny Brighouse and his friend Leon Currie set off to walk the 800km Camino de Santiago route in Spain on July 4, a trek expected to take up to five weeks to complete.
The pair, both 39 and from Lancaster, will be raising money for Young Addaction, a service based at Lancaster YMCA which helps young people across the district who are living with substance misuse.
The friends met in local authority care at Witherslack Hall School, having both had difficult childhoods.
Window cleaner Danny said: “It’s a subject close to both our hearts as we’ve both had and are still living with substance abuse issues.
“I have always wanted to do the walk. I asked Leon if he wanted to do it with me, and we then decided to find a charity to help at the same time.
“You try to change your lifestyle and one of the ways to get a buzz from something is to help others.”
Danny said Addaction was the ideal choice for them to raise money for.
“We feel like these people really have their heart in what they are doing,” he said.
“We wanted to find a Lancaster charity, and so we looked them up and asked them what the money would go towards, because we wanted it to stay local.”
Danny has previously suffered with substance abuse, although his main struggle has been with alcohol since he was about 14 or 15.
“It’s still an everyday struggle for me,” he said. “Somewhere like Addaction would have been brilliant for me.”
Leon said: “I have had problems with substance misuse since I was younger and was in rehab last year as well.
“You want to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of yourself, and in the process we can raise awareness as well as some cash for the charity.”
Former drug addict Leon added: “I had family members to support me but sometimes it’s hard to be objective for them. The first time I got any help I was already in social services. There was nothing like Addaction to give me any care and support.
“We want to give a little bit of hope to people; if some young kids see us getting out and doing something, hopefully we can inspire tham as well as ourselves.”
Danny added: “This is the one time in our lives we are going to finish something. It’s about making ourselves feel better and raising awareness about addiction and how it’s viewed by people.
“People need to start caring about each other more. People have an opinion of alcoholics and drug addicts, but they are just labels.
“The problems probably stem from childhood abuse and we need to change people’s attitudes. The drugs are often a symptom of something in the past.
“I’ll be honest, I am scared, but I want to struggle doing it. I am really nervous but at the same time I can’t wait.”
Danny and Leon’s money will go into Addaction’s Young Persons’ Opportunity Fund, which helps to provide positive opportunities and basic needs for the youngsters, including toiletries, which more and more young people are struggling to gain access to.
Claire Helme-Fawcett, community engagement coordinator at Addaction, said: “It’s very inspirational and will greatly impact on our service, providing awareness and much-needed funding for the local young people that we engage with. Danny and Leon’s fundraising will go directly into Lancaster area support.”
* To donate to Danny and Leon’s fundraising page, click here
The Lancaster branch of national charity Addaction has been in Lancaster for 13 years, and Young Addaction Lancashire is now the biggest young people’s service for substance abuse in the country.
Young Addaction Lancashire is a young people’s substance misuse service for under 25s, with the north branch covering Lancaster and Morecambe, Fylde and Wyre.
Their work is mainly conducted in one to ones using a variety of psychosocial interventions. They also conduct group work for young people and professionals around drugs and alcohol and take part in outreach engaging young people in their own environment.
If needed, they have access to prescribing for those who require pharmaceutical interventions.
The charity sees clients in community venues including youth centres, college’s schools and youth offending teams with drop-ins at the office.
They receive referrals from a variety of sources including self, parents, schools, hospitals and criminal justice.
The group deals with all drugs and alcohol, including NPS/legal highs. Clients have ranged from an eight-year-old for cannabis education to 20-year-olds on heroin and crack cocaine. Most referrals are for 15 to 18-year-olds for alcohol and cannabis.
Young Addaction works alongside the Amy Winehouse Foundation to deliver its Resilience Programme in schools.