Having had her sons taken into care and living rough during more than 20 years as a heroin and crack cocaine addict, Juliet appreciates her Hyde home a little bit more than most. See her story below.
Juliet, who is known as Jewels, says she can scarcely believe that she has a place to call her own.
"This place is my little palace – it’s amazing. From the moment I spoke to the first person at Hyde, I knew that they that actually cared. Hyde people are really genuinely caring, lovely people – they go way beyond what they’re supposed to do. Having a secure home is a massive part of my support system. When I shut this front door it is my front door. I feel safe here. I’m so happy to have been given this chance."
Jewels, 49, gave up drugs in February 2013, after being on the brink of an overdose and has worked hard to stay clean ever since.
As an addict she lost everything - her daughter left to live with grandparents and her two sons were taken into care, she lived on the streets, lost touch with her family and spent six months in prison for a drugs-related offence. She didn’t see her sons for 15 years and has only been reunited with her daughter, who is now 30, in the five years she has been off drugs.
When Jewels moved back to her native Kent a few years ago, she was living in private rented accommodation while she supported her mother, who has dementia. After experiencing problems with her landlord, she was forced to move into a homeless hostel.
A year later, and having unsuccessfully bid on a number of other properties, she was delighted to be told that a Hyde flat, which she had set her heart on, was available.
"As soon as I saw it, I thought that’s it – that’s the one for me. I nearly fell over when I was told I’d got it."
Jewels now has a very close relationship with her daughter, and sees her grandchildren regularly. She and her two sons recently attended her daughter’s wedding together.
Jewels credits her drugs support group for helping her deal with her addiction. "A lot of people put the drugs down and think that’s it, I’ve done it, but that’s the easy part, the hard work starts when you have to change your thinking."
Now that she has her own home, Jewels helps people who are stuck in the grip of addiction. She volunteers with a number of charities and an organisation which supports newly-released prisoners.
"I’m one of those people – I’m just clean, I’m not any different. I’ve learnt there is another way. You don’t have to go to prison to clean up, you haven’t got to be on the street and be on drugs. What you do need, is someone to listen.
"It’s like looking in the mirror. The only thing that’s different is that I don’t use. I’ve sobbed with them because I know that, while I’m so far removed from [their situation] now, it is only a hair’s breadth away."
"A lot of people like us, we just want to belong somewhere. Now I’m in my flat, I’ve got belonging. I’ve gone through a lot but I’ve earned this place, I really have. I deserve it. It’s the first time I’ve ever said that. This is where I’m supposed to be."