Manna House has recently been nominated for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services. We were visited by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Humphrey Scott-Moncrieff, and the application has now been passed onto the Specialist Assessment Panel. A nomination does not automatically mean that we will receive this prestigious award however, just having this recognition feels like an award in itself for us.
I grew up in a violent home and I reacted with violence against other people. And sad to say, I was quite good at it – and I used to do it often. So, when I became a teenager, things didn’t really change and due to the people I got involved with, I soon got into heavy crime. The norm for me was to carry a gun around everywhere I went and I believe I was prepared to use it. I shot at around 8 people but fortunately I never inflicted any wounds. I think I just wanted to scare people and make them realise it was a real gun.
When I reached my mid-thirties, I started to deal in drugs and became well off with the proceeds. Then in my late thirties, I started to take the drugs and things began to slip away. I met a guy called Alan and he told me where I could get a meal. It was place called Manna House.
When I arrived, the first person I met was Trevor, and I remember being amazed at how he appeared to ‘shine’ kindness. In my circle of friends, all the people I knew just wanted take, take, take. And here this man was, just wanting to give, give, give. It wasn’t the food he was giving, it was the time, concern and love. I wanted what he had, and he was prepared to share it. Trevor talked about a rehab place that I could go to and encouraged me to take that step of going. I was there around nine months, and left because of a family tragedy. When I came back to Stoke-on-Trent I went back to Manna House to meet up with Trevor again, and he said I could come alongside him at Manna House as a volunteer.
Many things in my life have changed over my time as a volunteer. Money and violence used to be king at one time, but not now. I think I could safely say that I’ve found great joy and peace at last.