If you visit the site of our construction project, The Linhay Landbased Learning Centre, you’ll read two notices: one tells you the story of the Embercombe Building Company (EBC), the other of one of their employees, Ally. Its a moving account of a life that was bleak and now full of hope and love. Since you may not have an opportunity to stroll up to the site gates anytime soon, I asked Phill Ireland, the MD of EBC to share it with you:
The Embercombe Building Company: The Biography of Ally
I am a 39 year old man called Ally.
I was assaulted aged 5 years and as a result I was put into care. I was in care for approximately 1.5 years, and then went to Southbrook. I was here for 4 years until the age of 11. From the age of 11 to the age of 21 I went to 37 different foster parents. Unfortunately to fight my past I turned to drugs, alcohol and crime.
The first time I experienced prison was in a young offenders centre, I was 17. I was sentenced for 8 months for burglary which was to pay for my habit, which at the time was amphetamine. I did not realise at the time but my life was to spiral out of control. I served my 8 months and was released and went back to my foster parents. Again, my foster parents changed and I got into more trouble stealing cars again to subsidise my habit. Again, I went back to prison.
I reached 21 years and my brother took me in. He looked after me, gave me work, but most of all he gave me a chance which I was so desperate for. I tried to hold my job down and stay away from trouble, but because of my troubled past, yet again I turned to crime and drugs. I used the drugs to mask my past. All I had wanted was a normal life and a nice family unit.
I was convicted of fraud at the age of 24 and was sentenced for 8 years. I served my Bird as they call it inside by turning to heroin. I was told it would make it easier and it was so easy to get inside. This would be the biggest mistake of my life.
I came out of prison at age 32 and tried to lead what I would call a “normal life.” My nephew had given me work painting and decorating which I loved, but my heroin addiction had taken hold of my life. I could no longer hold my job down. I was signing on and pretty much homeless now as none of my family wanted to know me, so I was staying wherever I pretty much could get my fix.
I used to pass a salon in Exeter every day and got talking to a girl called Emma. It turned out we had known each other for years. I asked her if she wanted a drink sometime and she said “yes”. She did not know about my habit, but I’m sure she chose to ignore it and did not want to judge me, but just help me instead.
In the meantime, I had got hold of some subutex which blocks heroin; I used this as an attempt to get off this awful drug. I had had contact with my mother and she said as long as I stay out of trouble and away from drugs she would have me home in Woodbury. I went home and tried to get my life on track. I gave Emma a call to see if she wanted to meet me, we met up and have not been apart since that day. I was desperate to find work and Emma had a client that had a recruitment agency and knew a little about my past. My number had been passed to her and in May 2011 I got a phone call asking to work putting tents up for a kid’s summer camp. I was so excited; this was when I was introduced to the Embercombe Building Company’s Managing Director.
From the moment I started working with EBC I realised they would not judge me, although I was ashamed that they did not know about my addiction to subutex to keep me away from heroin. I wanted to say something but worried I would lose my job. In September 2011 I went to my sisters to do some work on her house or so that what Emma and I told everyone. I had actually booked myself into Cedars Rehab in Exeter for one week to kick this habit once and for all. I went to Rehab and stayed and was extremely ill. I came out and was literally climbing the walls for about 4 months. Not sleeping, hallucinating, mood swings and extreme sweating – it was hell. The things that kept me going were my job and Emma – knowing I still had them.
To this day all the staff at EBC has stuck by me, not judged me, but helped me no end.
I cannot thank them enough and Embercombe and all the people that I now work with. If it was not for them I would not be where I am now. I have my driving licence back, my own work van, I am married to Emma and I have got the best job I have ever had. I have been given a chance and I cannot thank the MD and the EBC staff enough and this comes from the very bottom of my heart.
copyright Embercombe Building Company.
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