A woman has described how Foyle Valley House, in Derry, saved her life as the service staged an Open Day to highlight and celebrate the work it does to support homeless women who are dependent on alcohol.
The unique hostel, managed by Apex Housing Association, provides a comfortable and safe home for up to 14 women, one of whom told her story and praised the support she has received at Foyle Valley House.
‘Maggie’ is a resident at Foyle Valley House. She said: “When you’re an alcoholic, life is like an evil game of snakes and ladders.
“I’ve struggled with drinking since my late 20s but after rehab and support from AA, I went on to achieve 10 years of sobriety. In my 30s I started drinking again to control delusions and hallucinations and was eventually diagnosed as bipolar.
“I’ve been to prison four times as a result of my behaviour whilst drinking and just last year was drinking on the streets. Since then, I’ve been a resident of Foyle Valley House and I’m proud to say I have now been sober for five months.
“Foyle Valley House is a warm and supportive place. Staff understand alcoholism very well and give you everything you need to get well again. I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the support I’ve received from Foyle Valley House.”
Maureen Slater, Manager of Foyle Valley House, said: “The ladies here are some of the most marginalised in the community as people tend to see women as nurturers and carers for everyone else, so when they fall from grace due to their addictions they are seen as more of a failure than the men in our community.
“Addiction is a terrible disease that robs people of everything, including their dignity and respect. No one would choose to live the life that presents every day at Foyle Valley House but some have no choice. As staff we see both sides of this terrible affliction; we witness the kindness, humour and affection of our residents as well as the horror of coping with their daily fight with their demons.
“Foyle Valley is first and foremost a place of safety for our residents with the eventual hope that by providing sanctuary and support we may encourage our ladies to see a more positive future without alcohol.”
Foyle Valley House is a unique endeavour set up by Apex in 2001.
It is a temporary accommodation project specifically for homeless women who have an alcohol dependency.
Foyle Valley House offers accommodation, support and inclusion for residents to manage their alcohol use in a manner that is safe and reduce harm to themselves.
The majority of the women presenting to Foyle Valley House have multiple issues in addition to alcohol addiction and homelessness, such as mental health issues; domestic violence; adult survivors of child sexual/physical abuse; self-harming; family background of heavy drinking/family breakdown; traumatic life event; or involvement with criminal justice system.
For more information about Foyle Valley House, contact 028 7136 2689.