Paddy is a part of the co-production team, helping to shape Housing First to better fit the people using the service. He said: “Housing First is innovative and creative. It’s a different approach and a different way of tackling things”.
After going through difficult experiences, Paddy found everything began to deteriorate at once. He said: “Things kind of came to a head for me. I got into a position where I lost my girlfriend, I lost my job, I lost my car.
“As many people do, I started self-medicating with alcohol and with drugs and I guess it was a coping mechanism at the time. But obviously that’s bad medicine. It’s not good for the soul and it got to the point where I started to suffer from mental illness.
“I ended up spending some time in prison, so I ended up going through the probation service. Like others, we’ve come through these services and we’ve had certain negative experiences, and we had this general shared feeling that something better can be done”.
Paddy believes in the Housing First approach, which puts the service user in control of their recovery journey.
He added: “There is a better way to approach things and a better way to do things, and for me personally, I felt quite passionate about getting involved in this kind of thing and having a voice.
“That was the one thing that was kind of puzzling me. When I was using these services, even though they were supposed to be for my benefit, no one put any value on what I wanted.
“Even though it was deemed my recovery, I was dictated to and told how things were going to work out and everyone seemed to be an expert on me, apart from myself.
“That was one big reason why I wanted to get involved. People need to start having their opinions valued in their own recovery because, at the end of the day, your recovery is a journey and you want to be in the driver’s seat. You don’t want to be in the back being told to be quiet.
“I really feel like there’s a lot that can be done here and there’s a lot of potential for things to be done in a different way… I’m here to try and make sure that in every way we can, we can change things going forward for the better”.
Paddy offered some advice to people who will use the Housing First service: “Don’t give up. I’d like to encourage someone to definitely try the programme.
“Draw heart from people like us because we’re not just talking the talk, we’ve walked it. There is a better future ahead for you if you dig in”.
Find out more about Housing First in Greater Manchester: www.gmhousingfirst.org.uk