SUZANNE Nimmo’s life unravelled to such an extent that, at one point, she found herself living in a tent on an allotment in the Rivelin Valley, even though it was winter.
Otherwise, her story is a familiar one, of escaping a violent partner, of turning to drink and amphetamines and moving from hostel to hostel in a part of the country where she didn’t know anybody.
Three years ago, she discovered the value of the Archer Project.
“People were saying to come here for something to do instead of staying in the hostel all the time,” she says. “I was a bit scared. I didn’t know anybody.”
That has all changed. She now knows a lot of people at the centre, both as a client and as a volunteer helping others.
There have been ups and downs, but Suzanne, aged 31, who is originally from Edinburgh, has stabilised her life to a point where she has secured council accommodation with a partner in Southey Green and, crucially, feels a lot better about herself.
At the centre, she joined everything from literacy and numeracy sessions to walking and women’s groups.
Then came the next stage.
Chief executive officer Tim Renshaw says: “We challenged Suzanne to see if she would volunteer, putting her in a busy place to work with people she could relate to.
“If people were very demanding, she potentially wasn’t the greatest! But we gave her a place to chill if she was losing her temper and, part of the time we found she had good customer service skills.
“It developed from there to her running the lounge and the laundry and the shower access and co-ordinating a craft group.”
For Suzanne, the Archer Project has been invaluable.
“It has done a lot for me. It has helped me sort out my life. Me and my partner are now set up and we are not drinking all the time.”