Reon began counselling at The Salvation Army, using his own life experiences to help people
Reon works as a counsellor at a Salvation Army centre, helping people through their abuse, addiction, suicide and family issues. People trust him, he says, because he can understand where they are coming from. ‘After all,’ he says, ‘that used to be me.’
Reon grew up in a violent home, running away from his abusive stepfather when he was just 12. He was in foster homes throughout his teenage years where he was introduced to drugs and alcohol and became suicidal.
‘I had a lot of hatred and laid around a lot of blame for all the stuff that was happening,’ he says. ‘I have scars all down my arms and was feeling so low.’
Reon ran away again, this time to the streets where he spent the next 13 years in and out of his own abusive relationships and suffering with addiction.
It was then that an attack outside of a pub landed him in hospital for three months and sparked the realisation that he needed to get his life back on track. Reon met a nurse who would later become his wife and started a work placement at a local Salvation Army centre stocking the food bank. There his life changed course.
‘While I was on my placement my wife encouraged me to do a counselling course,’ he says. ‘I hadn’t done any schooling, but the institution ended up accepting me because of my life skills and experiences.’
Reon passed all of his papers, receiving a Level 6 Diploma, and began a counselling service through The Salvation Army centre. He plans to complete a Post-Graduate Degree in the near future.
‘This has been the best move I have made in my whole life,’ he says. ‘These people are feeling like I was: that there is nothing. It helps for them to have somebody that has been in their shoes, knowing what they’re feeling and going through.
‘I don’t want to walk back,’ he continued. ‘I don’t want to go backwards. I have been in hell and I have come back. Now I am sharing my story with people to give them hope in their lives too.’