Doorway Provides a Candle – Guest Opinion Column published in the Gazette & Herald newspaper – Sept 2014

In the summer of 2010 I asked one of our guests to write about his personal journey for our newly created blog. My intention was for him to get down on paper the various frustrations that he had experienced, from the starting point of the repossession of his house, through the times spent living in his car and subsequently the hostel, to the final point when he found himself living somewhere that he could once again call home.

After the obvious initial look of panic had started to drain from his face, I explained that not only could his story be used as a beacon of hope for all the others who would negotiate that same pathway, but that the process might be quite cathartic for him and would hopefully enable him to look back in the future and realise just how much he had achieved in the space of a relatively short period of time.

And so, after deciding on the pseudonym Samsa K, he started to write about the emotional, physical and mental minefield in small, manageable chunks which we then published regularly on the Doorway blog site.

I was totally blown away by what he wrote. He produced the most brutally honest and soul baring account of alcoholism that I have ever read and his final posting in November 2011, by way of a thank you note to all of us at Doorway, touched me deeply.

“I was talking to some of the Doorway volunteers after the AGM. The conversation touched on the difficulty of funding and the explaining of quantifiable outcomes in order to obtain such funding.  I was trying to explain what Doorway had done for me, when I realised that the most important thing that they had done for me was non-quantifiable in terms of funding criteria. In my opinion, the most important thing Doorway have done for me is to have helped in the re-discovery of my own humanity. What do I mean by this?  How have they done it? Two simple questions which are incredibly complicated for me to answer due in no small part to the emotional whirlpool-like journey I have experienced.

Recently I bought a member of Doorway a bunch of flowers and thanked her for everything she had done for me.  I thanked her and Doorway for turning me into something that was human again.  I told her that two years previous I couldn’t care a damn about anything yet twenty-four hours after reading something she had posted online I cared enough to turn up and try to boost her morale.  That to me, is a big deal.  It means I am capable of emotions other than fear.  If you are capable of caring about other people, for instance your own family then you can begin to take responsibility for your own actions in order for those actions not to have a detrimental effect on those for whom you love and care for.  With luck this could expand into the neighbourhood you live amongst and with a leap of vivid imagination the society in which you inhabit.  Pretty simplistic airy-fairy nonsense isn’t it?  Well, it’s worked for me.

There are times when I am mentally, emotionally living in a very dark place. Those times are now becoming few and far between.  It is not completely dark, for the gloom is fragmented by the flickering flame of a candle.  Doorway, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for providing that candle.

Lisa, when the Lottery fund asks you why you deserve funding, tell them that you provide candles for those in need. Somehow I don’t think that will satisfy the accountants, but that is what you have done for me.

Reading back I know I haven’t done Doorway justice. I know and many others know that when your friends turn away from you because you horrify / appal / disgust them, Doorway won’t.  Doorway will give them hope.  That’s a massive thing to give – probably non-quantifiable!!”

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