Before attending Fircroft I didn’t’ have much confidence in my ability’s to learn new skills and be in an educational environment, I had just been through 10 years of substance abuse and found myself having a “can’t do” attitude. I never found school easy and I always found myself being bullied or underachieving. I felt really nervous about ringing the college to book my place on a course as I didn’t know if they would ask me about my past education or qualifications. I really thought the college would follow a typical routine, a class full of young students, hour-long lectures and a huge stack of assignments and homework. I started to question whether or not I would be able to keep up.

I rang the college and Ian was the first person I spoke to, he made me feel valued and suggested a short course that wouldn’t be too intensive and would benefit me for my future career path. I turned up with my suitcase and felt really out of place, it felt as if everyone was going to judge me.

When I turned up all of my initial concerns were put to rest, the college was set at the end of a long driveway away from the stress and fast past of everyday life, the building made me feel as if I was in a home away from home. The staff were extremely friendly and supportive and were able to answer any questions I had or point me in the right direction to find out the information. The first day was an icebreaker which I was extremely nervous about because I had never talked In front of a group before and felt as if I would be put under the spotlight.

After the lesson, we went to dinner and all the food was freshly prepared and with good variety, we sat with our fellow peers where we were able to talk about the course and how we all felt as well as get to know them as individuals. I quickly realised that they were the same as me with the same issues and I managed to make a few new friends straight away.

I slept extremely well despite being in a different room to the one I’m used to and woke up eager. I was eager to advance my academic studies, the day was long and hard but I left the classroom feeling I had the support of my peers and tutors and had a huge sense of achievement. On the last day, I felt excited about my future prospects and how I could develop and progress as a student. I couldn’t wait for another short course where I would be able to meet even more people who were just as like-minded and able to share their experiences.

This short course changed my perception of how the college is run and gave me the confidence to pick up education again. I enrolled on 9 or more courses from that day on, I started at entry level courses then progressed onto level 2 courses, I’m now on the access to higher education course and looking at going to university.

I personally would never have thought about going to university and progressing into a career in addiction psychology but Fircroft has given me the tools and motivation to change my way of thinking and strive to bigger and better things. Not only has Fircroft given me a fresh new way of thinking but also helped me to keep sober by giving me something to aim for.