How Re-fit helped turn my life around – Rochelle’s Story

refit portsmouth ssjRe-fit is a sports, fitness and education service for people in Portsmouth who are vulnerable due to addiction, homelessness, or mental health problems. The programme is free to everyone supported by the recovery services in Portsmouth (Society of St James, Push and Portsmouth CC Recovery HUB).

Re-fit provides daily leisure activities, such as badminton, football and cooking. These activities can significantly improve the quality of life for people accessing the service by improving attendees’ physical and mental health, self-esteem, confidence and social interaction.  Re-fit provides a sense of structure to their lives and a space for them to enjoy new activities, in a drug and alcohol-free environment.

Through this varied programme, Re-fit has become a stepping stone, for people like Rochelle, to move towards education, volunteering and, ultimately, employment.

Rochelle’s Story

A Wobbly Road

Rochelle had a strict family upbringing. She liked school, but felt she wasn’t very academic, and felt trapped at home. She studied Performing Arts at college which gave her the freedom to mix with fellow students, along with which also came partying, drinking and smoking weed at weekends. But, for Rochelle, this use increased and soon escalated to taking pills, mushrooms and cocaine.

At 18, Rochelle started University and her first serious relationship was with a drug dealer.  She soon began using crack cocaine, which then led her to a heroin addiction. She moved in with her boyfriend, but the relationship became abusive.

By 20, she had left university and her boyfriend was in prison and her life started to spiral.

She was evicted from her flat and had to move back home. But when her boyfriend was released from prison, she returned to the relationship with him.  They ended up lived in squats and cars, committing crime to feed their habits. Rochelle would shoplift every day. A Police caution soon escalated to probation, community orders and electronic tagging. Finally, she was given a 6-month custodial sentence.

Upon release, and on probation Rochelle was living in a van when her case worker suggested accessing treatment for her addiction…

A Brighter Future

In 2014 Rochelle went to ANA (an addictions treatment centre). Being away from her past enabled her to focus on her recovery.

The Re-fit team regularly visited ANA to promote their service, engage new people and encourage them to come to their activities. This is when Rochelle started turning her life around.

With small steps, firstly by going to the badminton sessions on a weekly basis, then the gym and, finally, boxing.  The confidence and healthy peer relationships she found at Re-fit have had a huge impact upon her life.

To date, Rochelle has attended several courses from achieving a Health Trainer Award and accessing the Recovery Kitchen to completing an Advocacy course and becoming a Recovery Broker.

Rochelle now works at the Recovery Hub doing pre-assessments for new service users, she helps run groups on community reduction, she assists in collecting people from prison to take them to treatment services and she presents talks in schools about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

These opportunities and skills have enabled Rochelle to feel confident to go on to further education; her long term goal is to be a drugs worker in a woman’s prison.

re-fit ssj portsmouth


Rochelle told us:

Re-Fit has helped me lead a healthier lifestyle and motivated and encouraged me to access new training opportunities within my local community.

I still attend regular Re-Fit sessions and continue to help and support new people coming through on their own recovery journey.



We’d like to thank Rochelle for sharing her story.

If you would like to make a donation towards our work with vulnerable people in Hampshire, please visit JustGiving today and your donation could help us to further support more people like Rochelle to turn their lives around. Thank You.

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