Joey grows stronger in Ashfield’s garden of hope
Joey Morgan knows only too well how alcohol addiction can destroy someone’s life. The 38 year old from Llandrindod Wells hurt those closest to him and lost everything, including his wife and kids, as a result of his dependence which spiralled out of control.
However, Joey is one of the numerous people growing stronger at Ashfield Community Enterprise after being referred to the Village SOS project through Kaleidoscope, a national organisation with a base in Powys which provides support to people with drug and alcohol problems. By providing access to a range of support, volunteering and educational opportunities, the organisation enables people to make positive changes to their lives.
Kaleidoscope is one of the numerous organisations leasing one of the allotment plots available at the Ashfield project for the benefit of their service users. The allotment provides a golden opportunity for recovering alcoholics like Joey and other victims of substance misuse to plough their energy into something positive and forget about their problems.
Originally from Merseyside, Joey met his Japanese ex wife whilst travelling and decided to settle in Japan and have children. He worked as a pre-school English teacher in Japan where he lived for more than nine years.
“I had a pretty good life before the drink ruined it all to be honest,” reflects Joey.
“The drinking started to get out of hand round about 2007. I didn’t notice it at first. It’s a bit like Homer Simpson when he sits on the sofa and watches TV while drinking a few beers. That was me at the beginning but it just got out of hand. It was like a snowball effect and it gradually got worse.”
Joey arrived in Llandrindod Wells in difficult circumstances in 2009 after being deported from Japan.
“My parents had bought a house in Builth Wells years ago and when I came back from Japan, they wanted me to come down here as they thought it would be better for me than living back in Merseyside,” said Joey.
“The alcohol addiction just got worse and it started impacting on my health. Being unemployed didn’t help either and it was also a further trigger as I had so much time on my hands. I hurt all of those closest to me and I found myself in really bad situations. I got into trouble with the law, it brought about my divorce and I also lost my kids as a result. The worse things imaginable happened to me as a result of my addiction to alcohol.”
After hitting rock bottom, Joey couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel unless he made changes himself. Eighteen months ago, he walked into his local Kaleidoscope branch in Llandrindod Wells under his own steam to seek help. He has now been sober for nine months and is looking forward to the future with a great deal of optimism.
“I introduced myself to it,” said Joey.
“I finally realised that I had an alcohol problem. I had spent so many years in denial about it. My health was suffering and everybody around me sort of noticed it. I felt really low at that time.”
Through Kaleidoscope, Joey has been introduced to a range of educational opportunities and projects such as Ashfield in Howey.
“I get a lot of support from Kaleidoscope such as counselling and they’ve also tuned me back into education and some kind of normality,” explains Joey.
“I’ve done a digital photography and image editing course at a local college and I’ve also completed two word processing courses. I would like to work in the media eventually.”
Joey was introduced to Ashfield Community Enterprise as part of his recovery from alcohol addiction. Along with half a dozen other people recovering from substance misuse, he now voluntarily ploughs his energy into nurturing a thirty metre square patch of land at the project.
“Coming here helps keep you focussed and clears your mind,” said Joey.
“There’s a great atmosphere here, everyone’s really friendly and it’s such a peaceful and tranquil place to come to. It’s a good place to escape from anything really, especially if you love the countryside and the peace and quiet like I do. Reaping the rewards after a hard day’s work is also really nice both physically and mentally. There’s a mix bag of people working and volunteering here and if you want to get to know people locally, Ashfield is a great way of getting to know them. I’ve met lots of new people since I’ve been here.”
After only a short time at the project, it seems like Joey already has the growing bug.
“I’d love to be self sufficient myself one day and grow all my own food instead of having to go to the shops all the time. I like the idea of being able to pick something up from the ground and cook with what I’ve grown myself,” he says.
And Joey’s message to other people looking to volunteer at Ashfield is simple: “If you like gardening, volunteering, meeting other people or have time to fill – then pop into Ashfield and give it a go,” he beams.
After clawing his way back from the depths of despair, Joey is now leading a much more positive and healthier lifestyle after all those years wasted in a chaotic prison of alcoholism.
“Between the gardening at Ashfield, going to the gym as often as I can and eating much better, I’m leading a pretty healthy lifestyle these days,” says Joey.
“My life is quite positive now. The hard bits and my daemons with alcohol are over. As long as I keep myself occupied with projects such as Ashfield, I shall remain a normal citizen and a better person. Even when my time is over with Kaleidoscope, I would still like to help out at the Ashfield project.”