Case study: ‘I overdosed and was found laying on the street’

Le Chéile mentoring service seeks to reduce risks of young people reoffending

The following is an account from a now 22-year-old man who benefitted from a mentoring programme with Le Chéile, a youth justice support service, when he was in his late teens.

Mentoring involves a one-to-one relationship-based support service in which volunteers from local communities act as a positive role model to a young person who has been involved in crime through advice and support.

Growing up, everything was relatively normal until I reached first class. My old man became violent, he would beat up my mam and when my older brother and I would try to protect her, we would take a beating for getting in the way.

Over time, he grew to dislike us and would beat us up every day. When I wasn’t taking a beating from my old man, I was taking a beating from my older brother. I was always put down with no chance of recovery.


Once my older brother reached 12 he was put into foster care. I was left to fend for myself. I still tried to protect my mam but the beatings got worse. I lived in constant fear until I reached the age of 12 then my old man left.

Soon after my brother moved back home and he would beat me up every day. That was my childhood.

When I started secondary school, I wanted to be like my older brother so I started drinking and smoking and getting into scraps. Even still he would beat me up. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and retreated into myself.

So, I decided to leave home. I spent most my time at a friend’s place getting drunk and high for about a year then I progressed on to heavier drugs.

One night I accidentally overdosed and was found laying on a street, I was rushed to hospital and was very lucky to survive. It was soon after that I went into a treatment centre.

When I got out, nothing had changed so I fell into the same habits. A year later I was in treatment again. When I got out, the majority of my friends had moved away. So I quit using drugs altogether and only drank on the weekends.

I relapsed a few times but had the best counsellor to help me get through it.

When I was 17, I went on to complete my leaving certificate. Then I advanced onto college but my grant was delayed and I fell behind on my rent so I ended up homeless and in debt, after a few weeks living rough, I moved back home to my mam’s place.

There I went onto study business but had to leave just before the exams so that I could draw the dole over the summer. I went on to college but couldn’t find a course I liked so I left.

At this stage I was a volunteer in a family resource centre for four years. It was there I completed courses in self awareness, assertiveness and counselling, as well as psychotherapy. I went on to study psychology and social sciences in college.

But I broke my foot playing football for the college team and had to drop out in late February. So, the following year, I repeated the course and I got seven distinctions and one merit.

I went on to study for a Bachelor of Arts in social studies. I successfully completed first year. However, I had a change of mind and I recently dropped out to move to the US. My plan is to work full time in the social sector.

I’m now 22 and I first became involved with Le Chéile through a recommendation from the courts. I was 18 at the time and felt I had my life in order. But, apparently not, as my probation bond was extended by a further year.

At this point I had been in court since the age of 14 on a monthly basis so the idea of a further year of probation really pissed me off.

I was strongly against being given a mentor. I thought it would’ve been more beneficial at a younger age. However, once I got to know Mick and saw he was a good man who was actually trying to help, I fully engaged with Le Cheile services.

A mentor is someone who is there to guide a young person and help them reach their full potential. We joined the Men’s Shed and I built a doll’s house for my little sister. We undertook guitar lessons. We studied counselling and psychotherapy.

Most of all we went out for a bite to eat and a good chat. It was nice to be able to speak to someone in a higher position without being looked down upon. I was able to run things by Mick, such as everyday troubles, hassle and stress.

We were able to laugh things over. As a result, we became good friends. As time passed, I found it to be a nice break from the stress caused by everyday life, such as work and college.

Mick was influential in that he was a true leader and the best role model which made him easy to get along with. I never had a role model in my life as my old man left when I was young and my older brother was in and out of foster care.

Friends are important to have, and I believe that I found a good friend in Mick.