I first encountered Social Ground Force when they were Bill W Club Sligo in 2009. They were helping a member of my family with issues of their own and I watched and seen action from the word go. I never imagined that five years down the line I would also require their services.

As a man of seventy one years of age, and sober thirty six of them, I found myself with many medical conditions, such as partial blindness, heart problems, physically impaired, depressed and homeless. Yes homeless and desperate.

I was living in what I thought was a long term rental three bedroom house and at 71years of age I thought this would see me through until my time had come.

But after eighteen months into the contract the landlady decided she needed the house for a relative coming home from America. At the stroke of a pen I became homeless with four weeks to find alternative accommodation and I never had any money because as a pensioner I was struggling like the rest of society.

I contacted various agencies to no avail so to say I was desperate is an understatement. I could feel the tension in my body with all the worry and I knew I was in a bad place. Then I remembered the work the Bill W Club had done before for the family member.

I contacted them and within an hour plans were put in place for temporary accommodation. I had to be relocated to Sligo as I was isolated in County Leitrim and they understood my dilemma from the start.

They made contact with another local group, which I might add, do a tremendous job. Watching these two men overcome hurdle after hurdle was a pleasure and sometimes very stressful. My heart condition made life difficult for me during this time and it was an extremely worrying process. On many occasions I never thought I would make it.

Social Ground Force organised a B&B for a few weeks then I went into a very small box room for about six weeks. I found this very uncomfortable and with my diminished eye sight I was scared I would fall down the stairs. However I knew it was a temporary situation as the lads said I would be sorted out soon.

I am delighted to say that Christmas day 2014 will be a memorable time for me as I am now in a permanent residence of my own. I don’t have to worry about being thrown out on the street, my blood pressure is coming back down and the doctors are happy that my situation is stabilised. I have a white stick now as my vision got worse during this crisis but today I am happy and content.

Even after 36 years in recovery your life can take a completely different direction and I have strong and sincere gratitude for the Bill W Club / Social Ground Force in Sligo.

From the moment I asked them for help a button was pressed and a serious of maneuvers kicked in. The only reason it took three months is because they never had full control of the situation and they had to wait on other agencies.

To sum up my situation : when I was homeless they put a roof over my head. When I was scared, they reassured me. When I had hospital appointments and could not get to the hospital they picked me up even at 7am in the morning. When I was hungry they gave me food for three months and when I was penniless and had no tobacco they even bought me smokes.

The Bill W man showed me the true meaning of friendship and spiritual healing. Gratitude is a word that is not used enough and I have nothing but gratitude for the journey they guided me through.

Up-Date November 2015

For a year now I have had peace of mind and feel comfortable in my new accommodation. I have made new friends and travel all over the country with my bus pass.

As a pensioner, when I was in physical, mental and emotional pain last year I thought my time was coming fast. I stretched my hand out and asked for help and I’m glad it was caught by this group. They never stopped until I was safe and God it’s great to be able to laugh again