This is Lloyd’s story

Lloyd had a regular childhood and upbringing with good parents. He got up to regular mischief that young boys do but fell into bad company at around 17. He got involved in a fight which led to him serving time in Borstal – somewhere he describes as an absolute nightmare.  He was beaten on a daily basis by other inmates and staff alike in the most brutal and demoralising manner.

When Lloyd was 48 he lost his dad to cancer, and he actually died in his arms. This had a huge impact on him, pushing him further to alcohol. In spite of this he got married, had children and built a life for himself and his family by working as a car sprayer for BMW, Porsche and other big names but something didn’t feel quite right. He discovered that his wife had been having affairs throughout their marriage which he describes as ‘his world imploding and impossible to mend’ and causing its ultimate breakdown.

Lloyd moved out and ended up sofa surfing, living in his car and eventually moving into a caravan on his friends building yard. He had no heat, no running water and his drinking had reached a level where he would often wake up not knowing anything about the night before or how he had got where he found himself. During this period of time he made 6 suicide attempts but failed each time.

Moving into his friends building yard was the worst move he would make. He would work all week and sometimes get paid just £14. He was beaten on a regular basis and witnessed violence all the time. He lost 7 stone in weight and was living in a nightmare situation that he felt he had no way out of. He had become a victim of modern-day slavery.

Every day was the same, he felt sick, anxious, he felt that he was nothing and he had nothing – he could see no future so decided he may as well be dead as he was just existing. He had one bag, one pair of pants, one pair of socks and nothing else.

Then one day the CHESS Outreach Team were outside the gates of the yard and he went out to chat to them. They offered Lloyd a room at one of our facilities which he decided to take. Things didn’t improve straight away and he made another suicide attempt in the few months he was there. When his previous ‘friend’ turned up trying to get him back and he was badly beaten it was decided that he would be moved to another CHESS location.

Here he started to build relationships with people, making friends over dinner and getting to know people again and start the rebuilding process.  For all the darkness Lloyd has experienced in his life he is adamant that it is a place he will never return to.  He told us this ‘problems don’t go away when you drink – it only prolongs the problems. I decided that I needed to change things not only for my kids so I could have a relationship with them again, but also for me.  I have to realise that I have a lot to give. Every day is a good day for me, even when it’s not going great, cos I’ve bene given another chance.  To fail at 6 suicide attempts someone up there obviously wants me to stick around for some reason.’

Now Lloyd is getting them help he needs and will start making use of the CHESS counselling service soon.  He went on to say:

‘This is not just a chapter, it’s my life.  I’m not ashamed of what’s happened to me and I’m not ashamed to tell people.  I’ve started writing a journal every day.  I don’t read it myself but I make my entry and it will be there for my kids to read my story. I will close this journal on the day that I get a door key of my own for my own place.  I’ve a lot of bridge building to do with my family who have seen me at my worst and darkest times, but they can see the change in me. I’m off the drink and I’m going to stay that way. I’ve battled my demons and worked so hard so I’m not going back to that place where I felt worthless’.

‘For the first time in a long time I feel positive and can see light at the end of the tunnel. I want to get my own place where I can have my kids to stay and they can be proud of their dad and how far I’ve come. I want to grow old with my kids, see them go on their first dates, get married etc. It’s what you leave behind that counts. Thank God I was useless at suicide!’.

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Read more from the 20 Years, 20 Stories campaign here ‎ and for all of the stories from HARP, Southend here