University Centre Weston student Leslie Chandler has been interviewed on Channel 4’s flagship news programme about his experiences of overcoming addiction.
Leslie also spoke to anchor Jon Snow about how the stigmas attached to addiction and mental health issues can hinder recovery, especially in older people.
Londoner Leslie moved to Weston to seek treatment for his drug and alcohol dependencies and, after overcoming his addictions, completed a Counselling Skills Diploma at Weston College before progressing to the Foundation Degree in Counselling at UCW.
The 61-year-old was invited to appear on Channel 4 News due to his volunteer role with addiction charity Addaction.
Also a result of his work with Addaction, Leslie was recently invited to the House of Lords to address Lords and MPs on the subjects of addiction and mental health issues.
He said: “I was okay with being on TV because I didn’t really have much time to think about it, so I was able to just talk about my personal situation.
“I think it was well-received as Addaction have received quite a few emails from people saying how important it was that I just spoke from the heart.
“I’m also really pleased that I was able to get across my most important points: that it is never too late to seek help and that we should never just write people off.”
Leslie decided to study counselling after receiving therapy and other treatments over a number of years as part of his own recovery.
He added: “The journey that others are on really touches me after going through similar things myself, so counselling just sits right with me – the more I learn and practise, the more I realise it is what I’m meant to do.
“I find the course challenging, and I also found out at the beginning of the degree that I am dyslexic, but everyone at UCW has been very supportive.
“I’ve come a long way and I’d like to go as far as I can with my studies.”
The Counselling courses at UCW are delivered in partnership with Bath Spa University.
To find out more, please go to ucw.ac.uk/counselling.