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‘I thought I was going to die’: Former homeless alcoholic on road to recovery

PUBLISHED: 17:18 27 December 2018

Paul Pentelow at the Fyffe Centre in Lowestoft as he talks about 'the journey' he has had to change his life. Picture: Mick Howes

Paul Pentelow at the Fyffe Centre in Lowestoft as he talks about 'the journey' he has had to change his life. Picture: Mick Howes

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“I thought I was going to die on the streets before I got here.”

Paul Pentelow at the Fyffe Centre in Lowestoft as he talks about 'the journey' he has had to change his life. Picture: Mick Howes Paul Pentelow at the Fyffe Centre in Lowestoft as he talks about 'the journey' he has had to change his life. Picture: Mick Howes

That was the reaction of Paul Pentelow as he continues his “journey” from battling alcoholism, being homeless, regularly in jail and banned from half of a Norfolk town to now making a fresh start as he has high hopes of returning to work again.

Thanks to the waveney-based Thin Ice project, Mr Pentelow has benefited from emergency accommodation and specialist support of Access Community Trust as he is now based at the Fyffe Centre in Lowestoft.

At his lowest point Mr Pentelow would drink 10 cans of high volume beer or cider a day.

Battling depression and alcoholism he had been given a three-year criminal behaviour order because of his involvement in a number of anti-social incidents around King’s Lynn.

With more than 100 convictions for more than 170 offences – most of which were related to his drinking – he admitted that he was “a harmless drunk, a vulnerable drunk.”

He recalled: “I was going from street to street in King’s Lynn and I was banned from half the town.

“When you are homeless where do you drink - on the streets. It is not fun being in prison or a police cell every day and I was in the police cells for five days out of seven.”

Now, the 40-year-old described how his life has changed with help from the Lowestoft charity. Mr Pentelow said: “I came to Lowestoft in May this year, but I was soon out on the streets – not in the town centre, but I was sleeping in bushes, on top of hedges.

“When it is raining day and night and you fall asleep with your clothes soaked, its not nice.

“On this one particular day a couple of months ago the rain was so bad I slept for two nights in a sheep pen.”

After finding salvation at the church in Pakefield he recalled, “I was so cold, wet and depressed I shouted ‘God, help me’ and the next day I found out about the Thin Ice project and I’ve been here since November 1.

“The staff are so nice and friendly, I don’t have any issues, am off drink and I am a different person. I am grateful for everyone’s help - people are saying ‘well done Paul, keep going.’

“I have climbed a big bridge to get this far and I want to keep on climbing as there’s higher heights yet. My life has changed and I thank God I am here.

“I know there is someone looking after me as this has not happened by a miracle.

“I want to get to the end of the year and hit the ground running next year as I want to get back on a catering course then get back into work.

“I am happy here and I collect cactuses now – I buy them instead of beer.”

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