The Carpenter’s Arms Graduation event 2023 took place on 29 June, at Nottingham Trent Vineyard Church.
It proved a wonderful opportunity to bring together former residents seeking to re-build their lives after drug and alcohol addiction.
We have supported no fewer than 2,000 men across the UK over our 15 years of operation. Our residential programme, which takes place at eight sites across Leicestershire, includes support sessions, group work, employability support and leisure activities, with the aim of helping residents find hope and a new start, live independently, and re-build relationships with their families and friends.
This year’s graduation ceremony brought together the charity’s residents and their families, along with high-profile supporters including the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Henrietta Chubb JP, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Rani Mahal, and the Mayor of Charnwood, Margaret Smidowicz.
Our Chief Executive Officer, Richard Spence, commented,
“When addiction takes hold, it can be an incredibly lonely and frightening time. Our centres offer a safe, supportive and positive space where men can take back control of their lives. There is certainly longevity in our success; one of our speakers spoke of his thirteen years of sobriety after his time at The Carpenter’s Arms. In fact, many of our staff and volunteers too are one-time residents who wish to play their part in the recovery of others.
“I’d like to thank all who attended and who work tirelessly to make such a difference to men living with addiction, when they most need it.”
Henrietta Chubb JP, The High Sheriff of Leicestershire, added,
“As a magistrate, I see the devastation of addiction to a person’s life, as well as their family and friends, when they end up in the Court system. The Carpenter’s Arms offers an opportunity, strategies and support to face and overcome addiction, and turn people’s lives around. It offers people hope at their lowest ebb to gain self-confidence and self-worth which are invaluable gifts.”
The event provided the opportunity to give thanks to the charity’s founder, Bryan Spence, who retires from directorship of the charity after 15 years of service, and who will continue in his role as chaplain. It also marks a new chapter for the charity as it prepares for growth and looks to extend its services to a new audience.
We’ve captured some of the highlights of the day in this short video:
Building a foundation for a brighter future
A safe and nurturing environment where individuals living with addiction can find unfailing support, care and guidance
When I left the Military, I had problems in my marriage and was a victim of domestic abuse. I totally lost it and turned to alcohol. The Carpenter’s Arms were willing to take me on and knowing they were signed up to The Armed Forces Covenant was a big thing for me. I have grown with the programme, and I have now got self-worth. I wake up every morning thankful. I’m blessed.
As a magistrate, I see the devastation of addiction to a person’s life, as well as their family and friends, when they end up in the Court system. The Carpenter’s Arms offers an opportunity, strategies and support to face and overcome addiction, and turn people’s lives around. It offers people hope at their lowest ebb to gain self-confidence and self-worth which are invaluable gifts.
Mrs Henrietta Chubb JP, High Sheriff of Leicestershire
I got out of prison on the 14th of December 2017 and went straight to The Carpenter's Arms and felt the labels go. My first clean test in 24 years felt amazing. I had never seen my little girls through clean eyes. It was overwhelming! All the victories that were coming for me just for being in this place.
I’ve known The Carpenter's Arms now for several years and it's great to see the way in which they have grown. What they've done in terms of supporting the defence community has been extraordinary. They show such great enthusiasm and such an ability to reach into people's lives.
Bruce Spencer, MoD Employer Engagement Director for the East Midlands
Before my arrival at the Carpenter's Arms, I was lost in a very dark place, haunted by past memories, suppressed by the use of drink and drugs. A local Christian charity recommended The Carpenter's Arms and I was thrown another lifeline and my hope was restored. My spirit, body and soul have been renewed, and I have re-established family connections and built bridges I once burnt.
The Carpenter’s Arms is one of our alliance charities working in the area of addiction. We draw on their understanding of what's going on, and their work and solutions for people living with addiction. It helps support our policy and working forward to sustainable living and aspirations in life after addiction.
Steve Meadwell, Regional Manager (Midlands), Centre for Social Justice
I have been suffering from mental health for over 10 years and was addicted to crack, cocaine, cannabis, and steroids. My life was unmanageable. My life has changed completely and I’ve been able to see my son again. I was lost and broken and now I am blessed. I am now a House Dad in phase 3 and I’ve been put on the Pathways as a Support Worker.
I'm the trustee of the Carpenter's Arms and, this year, I’m also the Mayor of Charnwood. I first met Brian and Judith when I was a Magistrate Chairman of the Drug Rehabilitation Committee. The most rewarding experience was when I finished sitting on the bench and watched the amazing successes at The Carpenter’s Arms in capacity as a trustee. To sit and listen to the clients tell their stories, what they have done and how they have come out the other side with new beginnings, I think for me is the most rewarding. The court couldn’t do it, but The Carpenter's Arms did.
Councillor Margaret Smidowicz, Mayor of Charnwood and trustee of The Carpenter’s Arms
After years of hard drug addiction and causing a lot of pain and suffering for myself and my loved ones, I walked through the doors of the Carpenter's Arms. In the space of a few weeks, I started to see and think more clearly and within months my life had changed drastically for the better. I can't thank the Carpenter's Arms enough for giving me a second chance at life.
I've been an alcoholic for 3 years. Whilst it has been a challenge at The Carpenter's Arms, I have been clean for 1 month, have more energy and motivation to do things. A routine has helped me a lot, as well as being able to be around people which has helped me speak more easily. I am excited to go back to work and see my family more.
I was a broken man after 16 years addicted to heroin and crack, with no confidence or self-worth. Through coming to the Carpenter's Arms, I have been able to break free from my addiction, have learnt how to love myself, how to treat others and how to deal with everyday life without drugs. I am now happily married with 6 beautiful kids and have had a job for the last 6 years.