THE AMY WINEHOUSE FOUNDATION

Amy's
Place

January 2019
London

Set up by Amy’s family seven years ago, The Amy Winehouse Foundation helps to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. Amy’s Place is a recovery home for young women overcoming addiction.

With charities like this scarce in the UK, the Foundation’s work is vital. That’s why we continue to support them, making a contribution each season, so they can continue making a difference.

To find out more about the charity’s work and how Amy’s Place can help change lives, we met with Melissa, a current resident. This is her story.

“A wonderful worker told me that in Japanese culture, when they break a vase, they put it back together with gold. It’s beautiful because it’s been broken. And I remind myself of that every day. What’s happened to me makes me a more compassionate person and that’s what makes me, me.

Before I came into recovery I didn’t know what recovery was or looked like. Recovery, put simply, is learning how to live life without drugs and alcohol and getting back to a healthier happier self. Amy’s Place is a recovery house for women between the age of 18 to 30 who can get healthy and happy in the comfort of their own space.

Before I got to Amy’s Place, I’d spent 6 weeks at a treatment centre in Wiltshire. I had to decide whether to go back home and potentially relapse or put my recovery first. I took a chance and went to a second stage recovery centre in Camden. It was there that the Amy Winehouse Foundation introduced me to Amy’s Place and I’ve been living here since January 2018.

It’s the first time that I’ve ever had my own space and I’m really fortunate. To get to a point where you need to go to a recovery house means that you’ve been through a certain amount of pain – often trauma. A lot of darkness comes before the recovery. I see that rock bottom as a gift now.

The great thing about Amy’s Place is that there’s a balance between independence and support. I’ve got my own front door, my own key. I pay gas, leccy, council tax. I learn how to go through life sober. The people who work here are all in recovery themselves which is very special. There’s real trust and a real community.

Everything here feels organic, and Amy’s family are always involved. I went through some big surgery this year and Jane Winehouse was emailing me while I was in hospital. You can’t help forget that this is a family who have lost their daughter and they’ve decided to help other families get their daughters back. It’s so moving how genuinely invested they are. I will be forever grateful for the support of the Foundation.

I haven’t got a tragic story and I think there’s a lot of misconception around addiction - I was a regular girl from a regular upbringing. I know now that addiction does not discriminate. I did well at uni, got a good career but I just couldn’t find happiness. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012 and I just wasn’t able to get a grip of it. I couldn’t emotionally connect with anything and so my mental health deteriorated. Then the drinking picked up. It worked for a while, but before you know it, you feel like you need a drink to be happy, you need a drink to calm down, or to get through the day, or because you just burnt something in the oven. You end up completely dependent on drink – you are completely powerless.

My mum is unbelievable, she never kicked me out. Never gave up on me. Every time I said I was going to stop, I genuinely meant it. I genuinely believed it. I just couldn’t.

Being an alcoholic in recovery hasn’t taken anything away from my life. I’ve learnt about perseverance, resilience, letting go and acceptance, and I think it’s important that that’s celebrated.

“The more visible recovery there is, the more people will want to get help. We need more compassion when it comes to addiction and less judgement.”

What I’ve learned the most this year is how to love and be kind to myself. In recovery you have to look at yourself and dig deep. You have to hold your hands up, be humble, ask for help, admit when you’re wrong. We’ve been taught all of this at Amy’s Place, and it will stay with me forever. My family are my everything and are so proud of me. The best gift of recovery is giving my mum her peace of mind back. The people who I have known a long time and reconnected with - I shared my experience with them and opened up about where I had been and why I went ‘missing’, they were and are so loving and supportive and love me for who I am. I love them all dearly.”

To find out more about the Foundation’s vital work, please visit - amywinehousefoundation.org

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