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    Silhouette of a figure in the fog

    Craig Hopwood: Miles From Home

    From struggles with homelessness and mental health to finding meaning and expression, Craig has been rebuilding his life and learning to flourish once more.  Trigger warning: reference to suicidal thoughts

    October last year (2018), my life fell apart. I was left with nowhere to live, ended up between a motel and a friend’s spare room. In December I got offered a flat in Rotherham. I had the choice spending Christmas on the streets or living in Rotherham.

    I decided to accept the property and spent my first night with no furniture, no food, and nothing but a little heater and a blow up air bed.

    I absolutely hated every minute of my new life in Rotherham, so much to the point that I was considering the best option was suicide.

    On top of all that, I found myself having to apply for the dreaded Universal Credit that on top of everything else left me on the edge of taking my own life.

    I had a dreaded appointment at the Job Centre, explained to them my physical health but more importantly my mental health which was at its lowest possible point. My advisor told me about a ‘creative art’ group, so I said I’d go and see, more to get her off my back than anything else.

    In January the course was due to start, I got to Mowbray Gardens library and in the corner was what looked like ‘the blue rinse brigade’ sat at sewing machines. I took one look, and was in the process of turning round to leave, when a voice asked if I was there for ‘Flourish’. I’m so glad that Shirin asked me that question before I’d managed to get out of the door, because since that point I’ve found a new purpose.

    I’ve learnt that I have a talent for poetry and writing which I would never have found and made friends with people who understand the day to day difficulties that living with mental health brings.

    And now nearly 12 months later I am a published poet. I am so grateful for the day I found Rotherham Flourish and began taking the steps needed to deal with the daily issues and the new found way of dealing with them via words rather than the contemplation of suicide.

    I still have difficult days but I have people in my life who are there to support, understand and listen without prejudice.

    So I urge anyone who is wondering if they should attend either Rotherham Flourish (Connected Worlds) or other enterprises supported by Sheffield Flourish to push yourself out of the comfort zone you have made, and realise your true potential and let your talents ‘flourish’.

    Thank you to Shirin and Juliet McDonald for their support and guidance, but more importantly for their genuine concern and friendship! x

    Connected Worlds (Rotherham Flourish) is one of the enterprises supported by Sheffield Flourish.

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