Will Burgess arrived at Coolmine Lodge on the 8th of September 2017. He has just started the Coolmine After Care service, having successfully completed the Step Down programme. He recently accepted the role of Client Coordinator in the Lodge which will involve coordination between staff members and clients and dealing with any issues that may need to be addressed by the organisation.
Will is currently living with other men going through the recovery process in a shared house. This house, offered by a landlord whose previous resident had come from Coolmine’s recovery services, greatly aids the recovery process as the tenants can support each other.
“This time last year I was a shell. I had no self-esteem, I couldn’t make eye contact with people. I used drugs to give myself confidence. Drugs took away the feelings I constantly had of not being good enough. I needed them to function. Or so I thought.
“I came here from the pre-entry service in prison. I was offered early release from prison but I turned it down so that I could stay in the system and come to Coolmine Lodge. Making that tough decision was the start of me becoming a new person.
“Everything in this place helped me. Every little thing. The sense of community helped me to trust people. I tentatively started opening up a little bit. Letting people know who I was a little bit. And there was no judgement. So I let them in a bit more. And opened myself up a bit more.
“I started trying things. Things that terrified me. Things that I would have laughed at in the past, to mask how afraid of them I was. I’ve gone sailing here, I’ve done yoga and art-therapy. Coolmine gave me back so much of what I thought I’d lost forever. I know now that I’m an alright person. And I trust other people. For the first time in my life I have four or five really close friends and I trust them. I can communicate now and I can assert myself, in the right way.
“I love getting out of bed to come to Coolmine. I love knowing that, even when I’m not accessing services any more, I can still walk in those gates whenever I want and know that I’ll find a welcome and support.
“I cannot recognise the person I used to be. On Christmas Day 2016 I locked my front door, pulled all the blinds and heated up a pot of noodles for dinner. I didn’t want anyone to see me. That’s how bad I felt about myself. Now look at me! I now go sailing every week with my club, I’ve gotten a job with Coolmine that I can’t wait to start and I know who I am now. And I like who I am.”