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A former addict who spent 20 years in and out of prison has transformed his life since getting clean.
Shawn Penkenth, from Grimsby, first started doing drugs when he was just 15 years old, smoking weed.
However, this escalated over the years, with his life spiralling out of control as he fell into the depths of heroin and cocaine addiction.
Feeling that he had wasted much of his life, and having seen his father fall ill a few years ago, the 45-year-old has now managed to turn things around.
Escaping the vicious cycle he was trapped in before, he now volunteers for a rehabilitation centre in Castleford helping people in a similar position.
Speaking to the Grimsby Telegraph about his life, Shawn said: "I started by smoking cannabis when I was 15 and it just progressed from there. At one point I was taking 10 Valium as well as smoking cannabis.
"At 16, I was taking various tablets as well. Then, in 1994, I ended up going to jail for crimes like taking a vehicle without consent and burglary.
"Then I had three kids, but I was never able to hold them or even a job down.
"Another huge moment in my life was when my mum died in 2010.
"When that happened I stopped for a while and didn't end up back in prison until 2014.
"But then I ended up in and out of prison and became homeless for two months."
It was an encounter last year with two police officers who took him to a rehab clinic that led to Shawn getting the help he so desperately needed.
"At the time, I was in a really bad way - I was 6ft 3in and only weighed 10 stone," he recalled.
"I was mentally and emotionally dead. Coupled with my father falling ill, I knew I needed to make a change.
"I didn't want to be a disappointment anymore."
Shawn also saw the birth of his son as a chance to finally change his life once and for all.
He said: "I've spent 18 and a half years in prison overall. I went into the rehab centre on January 23 last year and I've now been clean for about 18 months.
"Now, I've got my first ever flat that I've furnished and decorated myself in Castleford and I volunteer at Reflections teaching other people like myself."
But he's not alone. His friend Daniel Fortune has been through a similar situation.
Thirty-one-year-old Daniel said: "I was taking drugs since the age of 13 - it was so bad at one point that I jumped out a third story window thinking I was on the ground floor and broke my back, as well as fracturing my ankle.
"I couldn't walk for three months after doing it and that was when I knew I needed to change.
"Now I also work at Reflection alongside Shawn and we see at least one person from Grimsby come in a month. We've got five or six in from Grimsby at the minute.
"The biggest change I see is from the people of Grimsby though. You see them come in off the streets and the next thing you know they're here or volunteering in their local food kitchen.
"It's amazing to see how far they come."
Featured Image Credit: Grimsby Telegraph
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