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Sarah W

Sarah W

Name: Sarah Whitcher
Age: 25
Year of the Fix: 2013
Location: Plymouth
Campaign: To increase support for people recovering from alcohol addiction

I began drinking when I was 18. First off it was just for fun. But as I got involved in the wrong crowd, and began to drink more and more, I became addicted.

 

Drinking changed my mood, changed my mindset, and changed me into an aggressive person. My anger issues got me into a lot of trouble, and eventually I began gaining a criminal record for crimes such as assault.

 

I needed help to get off of alcohol. I could see what it was doing to me. So I went into rehab for 14 months.

 

In February 2013, I moved back to Plymouth after my stint in rehabilitation. It had really helped and I made massive improvements over where I was only a few years before, but the temptation to relapse was still there.

 

This is what shocked me – just how little support there is for someone who has only recently finished rehab. Relapsing back into alcohol addiction is so easy.

 

With the help of Fixers, I created a short film which highlights why some young people turn to alcohol, and how difficult it can be to shake the addiction.

 

The film has been very positively received by policy-makers, local police and practitioners!

 

The local Police Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg, was so impressed by my Fix, he invited me to work with him on shaping the new alcohol strategy in the area.

 

I have also been asked to support the PCC’s team in the work they do with schools, by showing my film and giving talks on alcohol addiction.

Tony Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Tony Hogg is a strong supporter of my Fixers campaign and also appeared in the broadcast story about my Fix. Here's what he has to say about my project and efforts:

 

'I used to run a centre for young people who had suffered a range of disadvantages in life, and after 5 years in that role we had not heard anyone as impressive as Sarah.

'Sarah has made her choice to stay clean and is now an impressive role model as somebody who has taken control of her life and put many difficulties behind her.

'She speaks with immense wisdom and clarity on the most difficult of personal challenges. I hope very much to be working with Sarah, to project her achievements in my work and to benefit others. I wish her every strength for the future - through her courage and talks she is changing lives.'

 

Cllr Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care

Councillor Sue McDonald is supportive of my campaign and has offered to help with my project in the future, saying:

 

'Thank you for coming to the Council House. I was very interested to hear a first-hand account of what it is like to try to access services.

'I genuinely believe that the programme described by Sarah that aims to help people is the best way forward, in much the same way that anger management has to be undertaken for perpetrators of domestic violence, or a driving course for traffic offences.'

 

Oliver Colvile MP

On August 12th, I met with my local MP Oliver Colvile to discuss my Fixers project. I also showed him my Fixers film ‘Drink, Drank, Drunk’.

 

After hearing about my campaign and seeing my film, he has promised to send several letters to local teams to inform them of the issues I am concerned about in Plymouth with regards to alcohol misuse and youth offending. Here's what he had to say about my Fixers campaign:

 

'Sarah has overcome adversity throughout her life and is doing excellent work with Fixers to educate young people on the effects of alcohol and the vicious cycle of crime that it can turn into.  ‘Drink, Drank, Drunk’ explains perfectly the kind of struggle that people face when they come out of rehabilitation. 

 

'The film is just the beginning in what I am sure will be an extremely successful campaign by Sarah to give more support to people who are trying to rebuild their lives following a terrible addiction.'

 
Harbour Drug & Alcohol Services

Thank you for all your support and for appearing in my broadcast piece.

 

Simon Williams, Shekinah Mission

Thank you for contributing to my broadcast piece.

October 2014
I submitted written evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) inquiry to explore children and young people’s relationships with the police.

The APPGC published its final report on 28 October 2014. It sets out a range of recommendations, which my evidence fed into, to provide a clear framework for strengthening police practice in relation to children and young people.

January 2014

My story was shown on ITV News West Country as part of a campaign to tackle drink related crime. Local supermarkets have been asked to join in talks regarding the low price of alcohol - a campaign called for by Tony Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, who is supportive of my project.  You can watch the full piece by clicking here.

 

December 2013
The MP for Plymouth Moor View, Alison Seabeck, has heard about my project and has described my story as ‘interesting’ and ‘encouraging.’

 

She mentioned my case as an example at a recent meeting she attended about raising awareness of, and tackling, alcohol misuse.

 

She commented:

 

“I hear difficult stories from my constituents every day but stories like Sarah’s are incredibly moving and inspiring. I don’t think anybody can remotely imagine the strength, patience and willpower it takes to change your life around like Sarah did. If you combine the words alcoholism, crime, rehab and fresh start, it sounds like a pretty straightforward path. I am sure Sarah will tell anyone that it is the hardest thing she has ever done but also the best thing. Well done Sarah for being so strong for yourself and others. I am sure some of my constituents will be inspired by your story.”

 

November 2013

Tony Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, is so impressed with my project, that he's asked his PCC Team to try to build their alcohol strategy around my experiences! Here's what he had to say:

 

'Sarah speaks with immense wisdom and clarity on the most difficult of personal challenges. I hope very much to be working with Sarah, to project her achievements in my work and to benefit others. I wish her every strength for the future - through her courage and talks she is changing lives.'

 

My campaign was also featured in the Plymouth Herald. Click here to read the full article.

 

October 2013

I held screenings of my film audiences that included the Lord Mayor of Plymouth Vivien Pengelly, local Councillors, alcohol support services and the Devon and Cornwall Police Crime Commissioner among other important organisations.


Below is some of the encouraging and positive feedback I have received from participants.

 

Kathy Parker, Harbour Drug & Alcohol Services:

'Powerful, thought provoking film Sarah. Thank you. I really hope you manage to continue to get your message across to young people and politicians, and everyone else.'

 

Rachel Harvie, Trevi:

'Great work - really courageous! Going to take this back to the team!'

 

Rebecca Knight, YSMART:

'Really powerful story. I hope you are successful in your journey and in drawing attention to the problems you have highlighted and achieve better funding.'

 

Kathy Barrett, Plymouth Foodbank:

'Great film which gets the point across on such a personal level. Fixers seems a great charity that helps young people have a voice.'

 

Ellie Lavelle, Youth Cabinet:

'It's far too easy to get drink under age, and also too easy to get into nightclubs when you're under 18. There should be more people like Sarah talking to young people. She was a great speaker.'

 

Patrick Burnitt, Prince's Trust:

'Powerful presentation. I was impressed with the speeches that took place and the issues that arose.'

 

On Facebook, my campaign is also generating some great feedback:

 

'Well done. Not only are you sorting yourself out, you're helping others as well. Well done.'

 

'Well done Sarah, well done for getting back on track. Good video!'

 

'Well done you!'

 

 

August 2013

On 12th August, I met with Oliver Colvile MP to discuss my Fixers project and show him my film ‘Drink, Drank, Drunk’. After hearing about my campaign and seeing my film, he has promised to send several letters to local teams to inform them of the issues I am concerned about in Plymouth with regards to alcohol misuse and youth offending.

 

To read what he has to say about my Fixers campaign, click on my 'Supporters' tab.

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