A Christmas Miracle
When an email drops into your work inbox and the subject line reads: A Christmas Miracle, you know it’s going to be a good day.
Remember us telling you about the delightful children in Year 4 (8-9 year olds) at Locks Heath Junior School here?
There is no way that the staff or pupils or parents of the school could possibly have anticipated the difference their gift could make. Fortunately for us, we are a close bunch at the Society of St James and good news travels fast.
Shortly prior to Christmas, Mark, one of our substance misuse support workers, was meeting with a client (let’s call him Mr X), an active heavy drinker who has abstained and relapsed on several occasions previously. Mr X is a 46 year old man who’s struggled with alcohol dependency for over 20 years. He has a history of mental health problems, and of physical illness associated with his alcoholism including many emergency admissions to hospital as a result of abstinence from alcohol without the correct medication to support his body through this. Mark has been working with Mr X for 12 months, and met a very tearful, struggling man, feeling the pressures of life and his addiction to alcohol, who had discarded his plans to visit family because of how he was feeling in late December. During the visit, Mark was able to hand over one of the lovingly wrapped gifts from Locks Heath Junior School. Mr X opened the gift, a much needed pair of gloves and some chocolates and was quite overcome. However, it was the home made card with the note inside that really hit him hard. According to Mark, Mr X said, “If I can’t give up for myself, I have to do it for this little girl.”
He made a commitment to abstain from using alcohol, and resumed his plans to spend Christmas reconnecting with family. He has a very long road ahead of him, but everybody battling addiction has a turning point and for this man, the act of kindness of this young stranger was enough to break him, in a really positive way. If that’s not a Christmas Miracle, I fail to see what is.
Today (9 January 2013) Mark updated me to say that Mr X did visit family over Christmas, that he moderated his drinking over that period, and that he has now committed to working with the Alcohol team 4 days a week for the next month to begin tackling his problems. Mark added that, owing to family being sparse, and the breakdown of some relationships due to the alcoholism, Mr X hadn’t really had a reason to give up drinking before he received this gift and card from a stranger.
We are looking forward to visiting the school in due course to demonstrate to the children (and staff) just how much of an impact their act of kindness has made in transforming this one man’s life, to show them that they helped to make a little Christmas miracle happen.
Thank you Locks Heath Junior School.