Matt lives in the Wallich Cardiff Shoreline project.

The aim of Shoreline is to provide accommodation to street drinkers who would otherwise be sleeping rough. Residents are supported to reduce their alcohol intake at their own pace. They may have been excluded from abstinence based or ‘dry house’ projects.

This is Matt’s story.

“I was born into a mining family in Kirkaldy and moved to Doncaster when I was one year old. I’ve been drinking since I was fifteen. In 2000 I lost both my parents within six months of each other, which knocked me for six. In 2003 my wife left with our two children due to my drinking. I have no contact with my family at the moment.

I moved to Wales in 2004 but I lost my job as a care worker in 2008 when I was found drinking on the job. After becoming homeless my drinking worsened leading to a fall from a building resulting in serious injury, narrowly avoiding death. I decided to try and take hold of my life and completed a sixteen-week detox and moved into Dyfrig House, a dry house, in 2009 until 2011. However, after an offer of a drink from a friend, I relapsed.

I slept rough in Sophia Gardens between 2011 and 2014. During this time I was supported by The Wallich Rough Sleepers Intervention Team (RSIT) and met Wallich support worker Kath. While rough sleeping I managed to get onto a two-week residential detox at Whitchurch in Autumn 2014 but due to having nowhere to go I went straight back onto the street when discharged.

At the end of 2014 I was helped by The Wallich RSIT to move into Shoreline.

Shoreline is a wet house project aimed at keeping street drinkers from becoming street homeless and supporting them to reduce their alcohol intake at their own pace. It’s a place that’s the only thing standing between people who have been failed by dry houses and the streets.

At the start of Summer 2016 I was invited by Jen to take part in a new project run by Theatre Versus Oppression (TVO) and The Wallich.

Behind The Label (BTL) provides Wallich service users with the opportunity to experience behind the scenes at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) culminating in a production starring and crewed by the service users. The last time I had been to a theatre was back in my school days and I didn’t think there was so much involved in putting on a production. I like front of house and really enjoy taking tickets and ushering. It’s changed me a lot. Staff have been saying I’m a changed person.

Depression had hampered my ability to cut down my alcohol intake but BTL has given me something to look forward to, as well as being a powerful diversionary activity. This is the first time I’ve been offered diversionary activities to support me in drinking less.  After the BTL performance in November 2016, I hope to continue to engage in activities with The Wallich to continue to build my self-esteem.

I’m still living in Shoreline and am making steps towards getting back into work. I have a keen interest in getting back into cookery. I used to cook for service users at a day centre but sadly the day centre closed down.  I would like to get back into catering and I’m enquiring after gaining my food safety qualifications to allow me to do so.

One day I want to regain contact with my family but I’ve been so low, depressed and suicidal that I need to build up my self-esteem and work up to that goal.

My drinking peaked at three bottles of wine and one bottle of vodka per day. I’m now down to half a bottle of vodka with the support of Shoreline and added value projects such as Behind The Label.”

You can find out more about Matt’s time at Behind The Label from 1:45 in this edition of the BTL Video Diary