Getting Outdoors supports people who have issues related to alcohol and drugs. The group cycle, hike and walk together to improve physical and mental health. Project member Fiona speaks about her recovery and why the cost of living is now her biggest concern.
I was born and bred in Greenock and then moved over to Colerain in Northern Ireland for my marriage. We separated and I moved back to Greenock in 2019. Because of the marriage difficulties and combination of other things I had become dependent on alcohol. Moving back to Greenock was my opportunity to start working on a recovery. I tried a couple of local places which weren’t for me, and then I saw a leaflet for Moving On and decided to give them a call. It was the right move. I've been involved on and off ever since.
The project gave me a purpose when I needed one. I had to get up, I had to get washed, dressed and get myself from A to B. The staff are empathetic, some have been through similar circumstances and they’re forgiving. If I have a slip I’m still welcome back and never judged.
As my recovery gets better, my mental health improves. I’m also able to do more physically, whether that’s yoga or cycling or the hikes they organise. It all starts to gel.
Now the cost of living is my biggest concern. Energy prices are a real problem for me. I have a pre-payment meter and I soon as I put the heating on it’s like watching the Countdown clock on TV – you don’t have much time.
I have Reynaud’s Syndrome, which affects the circulation in my hands and feet. If they get cold or if I’m not moving around enough, the pain is excruciating. I’ll put the heating on for two hours and just as it’s starting to make a difference I have to turn it off because it costs nearly five pounds. I’ll put on gloves and extra socks instead.
I like walking but if it’s too cold and the Raynaud’s kicks in, I can’t feel my feet, so I’m in pain and it becomes prohibitive to exercise or to go out. Generally, I prefer to walk than getting transport. It’s good for the head, it’s a bit of medicine. But if my house is too cold to properly heat me, it limits what else I can do, where I can go.
I keep trying to save a little bit of money to put something aside for the coming year, because it’s not going to get easier, but I end up having to use it because I need at least some heat every day to help ease the Raynaud’s.
The project gave me a purpose when I needed one. As my recovery gets better, my mental health improves.
When I was over in Colerain, we only had ad hoc heat. There was an open fire in one room only, and so a lot of the time I was cold and in pain. When I left I swore I’d never let myself go through that again, ever. So if there’s extra money it goes on the gas and electric. For everything else, I’ve cut back a lot more or I know there’s support elsewhere, from food banks, or somewhere to get clothes if I need clothing.
I’ve cut back on a hell of a lot though. I go straight to the reduced section in the supermarket. If I have to eat budget brands, I’ll eat them. There are some exceptions – I have to have nice coffee. I don’t compromise on that, I just look to see where’s selling it cheaper. I’ll price compare supermarkets and when I have the money I’ll go where I think is best for saving.
I try to bulk cook and then freeze food because then I can just take it out and microwave it, which apparently is a lot cheaper than using gas hobs or turning on the cooker. I avoid products that I have to cook in the oven. It’s just mad, the amount I’ve had to cut back on.
The social impact is huge. Depression seems to be the biggest outcome amongst people I know. If people can make it to their different support groups then great, but sometimes they can’t because of the cost of living situation and how it’s making them feel.
Energy prices, food prices and travel costs are main topics of conversation now. And not only that, we’re talking about how it’s affecting the NHS as well. It’s affecting absolutely everything that people depend on.
Because of the cost of everything, a lot of people are not living, they’re existing. It’s great to have Moving On and the different things they run. I can have social interactions or speak to people in confidence if I have a problem with recovery, and I can trust the staff. The price of energy and how much it costs for groceries makes me anxious though, and I just hope my anxiety doesn’t take over. I’m trying not to think too far ahead.
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