A RECOVERING addict who has been sober for more than 12 years is fundraising to create a safe space to offer to vulnerable residents a listening ear.
Leanne Garlick, 44, now of Cundy Cross but originally from Penistone, has previously struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol, whilst also living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
She has four children, the first of which she had when she was in her 20s, and they were forced to live elsewhere when she was in addiction.
She said: “I was in active addiction from being 11 years old due to trauma and abuse.
“I started having children at the age of 20 whilst still in addiction.
“My beautiful, supportive children have been with me through every stage of my recovery.
“They didn’t live with me for many years but I had supervised visits with them every weekend.”
Leanne says that now she is in recovery - in November she will be 13 years sober - she can finally be a ‘real mum’ to her kids, and that’s why she wants to help others in the borough who are going through the same issues she was.
“I’m in recovery myself and I have been for more than 12 years,” she added.
“In Barnsley, things like homelessness, drug addiction and alcoholics are on show in the town centre - but I’ve never seen a place they can go for a warm drink and just be out of the rain for an hour.
“As I’ve been there myself I know what it’s like and I know how important it is to have someone to speak to about it.
“I know from my own personal experience and from what I’ve heard is that there’s no understanding of it or compassion.”
With the help from the Salvation Army and her friends and family, Leanne has managed to turn her life around - and she’s now wanting to give something back.
She’s attempting to raise £50,000 with her daughter, 18-year-old Lucy-Mai Ping, for a new ‘safe place’ where anyone with addiction, or even just those wanting someone to speak to, can go.
“Me and my daughter were thinking about what we can do to help and as a recovering adult myself I just wanted to give something back,” she added.
“I know a lot of people who are wanting to help who have been in the same position I have.
“The Salvation Army are happy to help and without them I don’t think I’d be in the place I currently am - they hold a special place in my heart.”
The pair have set up their fundraiser and managed to raise almost £100 in less than a day - but they’re hoping to smash their target and help Barnsley’s most vulnerable residents.
“One of the things about addiction is feeling alone,” she added.
“As an addict, you feel totally alone and as if no-one understands - this can keep you in addiction.
“If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, and the others I met in recovery at the church, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
“I plan to lease a place in Barnsley so anyone in need can access us.
“A safe place will be a cafe where anyone can come for a meal, a chat with someone who understands or just a meeting place to have a warm and a hot drink.
“Everyone needs a little kindness from time to time and I’m hoping to create a kind, safe space for anyone needing it.
“I have the support of friends and family, who have offered to volunteer their time and resources to help get a safe place up and running.
“I just want people to feel normal - even if it’s just for an hour.”