Case study: David, 55, North-East
“My father was a big drinker and used to hit my mum. If he couldn’t get money out of her he used to wallop her, she would do runners and take us to her mother’s – that was my life.
“During my childhood, my father had visiting rights. I used to look forward to it, but 9 times out of 10 he’d turn up with the smell of drink on him and my mother would just refuse for him to take us. I had a close relationship with mum; I tried to do everything that basically a dad should have done for his wife. With him not being there we all tried to be a bigger role model for our mum. I never built up a relationship with dad and he died from alcohol poisoning in my 20s.
“I started working at a young age as an apprentice painter and decorator, but in my late teens I had a brain haemorrhage and was in a coma. I was in hospital for many months before they released me. I wasn’t allowed to lock the bathroom door and was told I can’t play sport because a severe knock to my head would kick it back off.
“Doctors couldn’t tell me whether it would happen again or not, I just had to get on with my life. I knew then in my own mind that there’s no way I could go back to what I was like, always on the go, I had to watch what I did, be careful of my head.
“It was a difficult time and I was unemployed, fed up and drinking too much. In my mid-teens I’d been out one night drinking and just thought ‘What’s the point of going on?’. I’d just had enough. I went into a phone box and saw a card for Samaritans and the address of the local one; I ended up on the doorstep.
It gives you the sense of security knowing someone is there for you.
“I was with the volunteer until about 3 in the morning. He talked to me and I managed to open up about my problems. It gives you the sense of security knowing someone is there for you.
“When I got home I told my mother how I felt, she was shocked because she thought I was happy. I’d never had a father figure, so my mother got my uncle to talk to me and I opened up to him and to friends too. It took a lot of the pressure off me and also made me feel a bit better because other people knew.“