Davie finds fairway to a new life

Membership of a golf club helps a father to turn his back on addiction and support others in trouble

When Davie Maxwell was asked what he would do if he could have £250 to help him manage his well being and recovery from addiction, he said he’d buy a year’s membership for his local golf club.

This was the first time he had been offered self-directed support, and when his unusual request was agreed by East Ayrshire Council’s Social Work team he took the money and immediately signed up as a member of Ravenspark Golf Club in Irvine… and quickly returned to the team to show them the receipt for the membership that very day.

Davie, 41, said: “This self-directed support was very important to me as it showed the trust people had in me and that was really empowering. It was the start of helping me to turn my life around.”

Davie’s life had been blighted by drug and alcohol addiction, which had also resulted with several spells in prison. During his time inside he developed mental health issues as a result of not receiving his addiction medication regularly.

“I have had a chaotic past through drug and alcohol dependency. But when I came out of prison in 2011 I decided I had to change my life, as my teenage daughter Hayleigh said she never wanted to visit me
in prison again.”

Davie’s interest in golf was a way of getting away from his old neighbourhood and its associations with his past. He explained: “I had a great friend from my younger days at school who loved golf and would invite me to play with him, which I really enjoyed. He knew me before I got in trouble and accepted me for who I was, which was what I needed. The golf membership helped me afford to play once a week and to help develop my confidence and well being.”

This stability, and the support from Hayleigh and his parents, gave Davie time to think about his life, and this led him to the belief that he should give something back to society. “I’d hindered a lot of people through my past activities so I really wanted to give something back, so I decided to volunteer and use my experiences of life to help others.”

He first worked as a peer volunteer with the Scottish Drug Forum for 18 months helping people with addictions, and then joined Positive Prison Positive Futures for nearly a year, visiting people in prison and giving them guidance about accommodation when they were released. He said: “It’s difficult for people with addictions when they leave prison as they go back into the same communities where Self-directed support was very important as it showed the trust people had in me – that was really empowering I really wanted to give something back, so I decided to volunteer and use my experiences of life to help others they are exposed to risks. If it’s possible, it’s best to move away to give you a better chance of recovery.”

It was hard for Davie too, as when he was back in society he was met with prejudice from many people.
“I have endured a lot of problems through my recovery with negative attitudes from doctors, pharmacies and support agencies, as well as the local community saying bad things about my family. At times, I felt I couldn’t empower myself to be positive about getting clean and not getting into trouble. But I had promised my daughter I would do my best to stop my carry on, and I’m glad to say that she is my life, and she shows me what life is worth now.”

Davie spent two years with the Community Brokerage Network, and after studying for a Higher in Health & Social Care at Ayrshire College, he has also gone on to complete an SVQ3 in Adult Care.

Davie is now a peer volunteer with the Alcohol and Drug Partnership in South Ayrshire Council, working with the Young People’s Support and Transition Team. He’s developed strong relationships with young people in a residential unit and provides them with a mentor they can relate to. He said: “My role helps the team engage with these hard-to-reach young people as I can communicate better about matters like drugs, prison and my life experiences that my professional colleagues have no first-hand knowledge of.

“It gives me a strong sense of purpose when young people relate to me and I can realise my potential by helping them, and promoting positive behaviours so they don’t get into the same trouble as I did.

“This volunteering work has really helped me to see a future for myself and start living life to the full. I’m finding the role of peer work with these young people very fulfilling and I’m looking to study an SVQ3 in Child Care so I can make a career of it.

“I also want to give people, who have been in my situation, hope that they can change their lives for the better – if I can do it, so can they.”