Darren is another wonderful example of a life that has been transformed at the Oasis Centre.
Darren was introduced to The Oasis Centre by two of his friends who were in the process of being evicted from their home. They were being supported by our Community Support team, working with them through their crisis issues. Darren watched as his friends were helped out of the pit they had found themselves in, and saw Oasis' commitment to help his friends until they were in a stable place and ready to move on. No eviction, end of crisis - Community Support team, we salute you!
When Darren first came into Oasis, he was addicted to drugs, with no direction for his life: "I had become a paranoid addict after I lost my job. I was on a downward spiral. As my addiction grew worse... I lost my family and friends. Anyone who was important to me was gone." With sadness in his eyes, Darren went on to say, "When I first came into Oasis, I had no idea about all the stuff you guys were doing and all the hard work you were doing to make a difference in Gorton. I was on drugs, I was alone, I wanted out."
As Darren came into Oasis week after week, he began to feel like he was part of a community. "I'd had one-to-one drug support in the past, but I felt so alone; Oasis gave me what I was lacking - a place where I felt accepted and valued just as I was. Stu (Oasis Centre Manager) literally took me under his wing. He said he believed in me and thought I had so much potential."
Stuart began to work with Darren, helping him see all that he could be. Stuart introduced Darren to a running programme and would go running with Darren as a way of distracting him from the drugs. As Darren grew stronger and more committed to Oasis and his running, Stuart registered Darren for the Manchester 10k run. Darren started training and preparing himself for the race of his life. After weeks of training, Darren came into the Centre saying it was time for him to have a pair of running shoes! The day of the race came and Darren was ready. He completed the 10k run and helped raise over £500 for the Centre!
I remember the day when Darren came into Oasis wearing his medal. Everybody stopped what they were doing. Every staff member, volunteer and client turned their attention to Darren and clapped with great delight: "Well done mate, we knew you could do it!" You see, Darren represented so much more than running a race to his friends at Oasis that day. Darren represented freedom from what was destroying him; he represented hope for the future, not just for himself but for anyone who would follow his example.
Darren joined our RE-SKILL and RE-START programmes and enrolled in our In-House volunteer programme, where he gained qualifications in health and hygiene and food management. Darren then completed a 10 week warehouse training course. We are excited for Darren's future and can't wait to write a reference for his potential employer!