Gareth’s story

06 Mar 2023

As a young adult, Gareth was facing an alcohol addiction. He moved into The Wallich’s Derwen Newydd project to recover

Read his story

Gareth. GM. Derwen Newydd.

Life before The Wallich

“From quite a young age, I suffered with my mental health – really low self-esteem and no confidence in myself.

My parents divorced when I was quite young, and I think it all stemmed from that.

I turned to drink at a young age because it gave me that confidence.

When I went through my teenage years and then went to university, I drank a lot and then had years of denial thinking what I was doing was fine.

So, when I came to university, it wasn’t anything new for me. I became this character that everybody turned to for a party.

I became a challenge, nobody could drink me under the table, I thought I was cool and all the attention, I’d never had that before.

I was a functional alcoholic for years so still managed to hold down jobs, but it became much more difficult by the end of my twenties.

I ended up being homeless in Llanelli.

There were days when I was just buying bottles of vodka and I was walking the millennium costal path and they were scary days for me.

Those were days I realized that I actually had nothing and no one. I was very much on my own.

I had a turning point. Where I came to these crossroads and it was in plain sight what was going to happen to me if I carried on doing what I was doing.

So, I could either choose that or I could choose help.

I chose help, and that came from The Wallich, at the right time.”

Living at Derwen Newydd

“I was given the opportunity to move in here and what it provided for me was a real safe space and an opportunity to rest and to start my recovery journey.

With the support of the staff here, it’s been truly amazing.

One thing about the project that worked quite well for me, is there is no pressure from the staff to hurry things along.

Everything is at your own pace. There’s plenty of ample opportunities that they provide for you.

If you want to go out into the community, you can.

If you don’t want to and feel that you aren’t ready, they will never pressure you to do it.

They managed to get me in contact with a local dog’s charity. That managed to get me out.

I use the local gym here. The staff have supported me through all of that.


This is a very special building, in a sense that it created a safe space for me. I say that a lot.

This area is quiet. It was the perfect space for me at the perfect time.

With the guidance that they offer here, I was able to, in my own time, build up the courage to throw myself back into stuff I used to do whilst I was drinking.

I created an environment here that I wanted to stay in, that I knew was safe and I was happy.

I wasn’t spending money, so managed to save. I got my car back on the road, so I gained my independence a bit more.

I’ve managed to join two local wind bands, so I’m back playing the trumpet. I’m also acting in a local theatre group.

I’m really happy. I’m in a really good place, and if it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t be.”

Getting involved

Creative community

The Creative community is a weekly session for clients, staff and volunteers from The Wallich to get together for social time, wellbeing support and creative activities.

“The creative community has this ability to make you feel amazing afterwards, whatever you do.

A Tuesday is a Tuesday, you get out of bed, you have some breakfast and maybe sometimes you’re not up for it, but I always try. Because I know, straight after creative community, with all the different things we do, that I always feel good.

If you can’t draw, it doesn’t matter. If you can’t write, or write poems, it doesn’t matter.

Whatever you bring to the table is appreciated and the respect is there.”


WISE is The Wallich’s Working In Sustainable Employment project, an employability project for people with lived experience.

“What they provided was incredible.

As someone that is going through recovery, I believe that you should never really stop.

Just because you’ve been to rehab, that is great, but in my recovery, I’m going to keep doing stuff like this.

The opportunity to do first aid, health and safety training, all the stuff that I could put towards my CV now help my next step towards employment.

I completed the WISE project here [at Derwen Newydd].

They paid for me to do an online Zoology course and an animal behaviour course.

That is what I want to do, I want to work with animals.

They’ve made it a reality. I’m extremely grateful.”

The future

“I went through a lot of my life not knowing what I wanted to do, I did a degree in acting, thinking I wanted to be an actor.

I soon realized that world wasn’t for me.

When I left rehab and came back to Derwen Newydd, I found a local charity, a border collie rescue charity and I’ve been with them for a while now.

It just cemented for me that I want to work with animals.

Being sober now, I’m wanting to learn again.

Everybody thinks that addicts and stuff are in the same boat, and it is the same thing but it’s all completely different.

Everyone’s story is different, how everyone deals with things are completely different.

I think if you find the ability to keep going, even when times are really bad, you can get through anything.

That’s what I feel like at the moment, that I can cope with anything that is thrown at me because of this place.”

Watch Gareth tell his story

If you’ve been affected by any of the topics mentioned in this case study, help and support is available. Visit our Help & Advice page to find out more.

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