Man living in doorway of TJ Hughes in Eastbourne wins ‘golden ticket’

A man who has spent 22 years of his life on the streets said he found hope in Eastbourne and has praised the Rebourne Centre for helping him get sober.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 11:38 am

Terry Gallacher, 40, who has been in recovery since December last year, said he feels like he’s won a ‘golden ticket’ after starting his sobriety journey with the Salvation Army and securing somewhere to live in Ashford Road.

Terry said, “This is my wildest dream. I feel like I have won the golden ticket. I have come from the streets to where I am now. The journey does not end here. The journey has just begun.

“If it was not for the night shelter or Rebourne Corner I would not be alive. That is the truth. I would have been dead on the streets. It has been brilliant for me.”

Pauline and Terry outside the Rebourne Centre in Willowfield Road

Terry, who said he had a wide array of health issues including alcoholism while on the streets, realised he wanted to change his life for the better while in the doorway of TJ Hughes, where he would sit ‘all day’, in the town centre.

He said, “I had been in and out of recovery before but this time was very different. I felt myself dying. I was absolutely terrified. In that doorway I remember I was drinking with lots of people, I put my can of beer down and I said ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I had urinated myself, I was absolutely stinking. I managed to find the strength to walk to the Rebourne Centre.

“I have seen the devastation of alcoholism. It is not nice and I did not want to be another statistic.”

The Scotsman, who has been homeless since leaving care at the age of 18, said he went down to see Pauline Peagam-Phillips at the Salvation Army just before Christmas and has been sober ever since.

He said, “Pauline said ‘first things first we need to throw you in the shower and get you clean clothes’. Afterwards she said she could get me in the night shelter. I said that would really help.”

Terry highlighted the community spirit and kindness from strangers in Eastbourne, which drew him back to the town last year after a brief period in London. He also said it was the night shelter’s strict no-drinking policy that helped motivate him to get sober.

He said, “I was so lonely in London. The people in Eastbourne used to come to me in the doorway and get me food, give me coats, blankets and Scope charity shop helped a lot. I had hope here in Eastbourne.

“I knew I really wanted to make a go of my recovery. These services that are here bend over backwards for you. They just want the best for you. They want to help you get a better life for yourself.”

Terry said he had a message for anyone who wants to make a change in their life or is in the same situation as he was. He said, “If I can do it there’s hope for you. It is possible to turn your life around. It is never too late. I truly believe that.

“Don’t give up, and hold on to hope. When I was in that doorway I didn’t think it was possible. There was a part of me that thought I would be found dead in that doorway. I think I made the right decision.”

Pauline from the Salvation Army said, “We pray that Terry will continue down this road and that this time will be the one. It’s always great to have success stories because, although the work keeps going, we see people slip all the time and they start again.

“Recovery happens at some point for the majority of people and we just have to be there until that happens, and when it does we are here to support them.”

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