From homeless and dependent to film festival judge: Kelly’s story

Kelly Judge | September 2018 | 7 minutes

Kelly was alcohol dependent and sleeping rough - but everything changed when she visited Steps to Recovery and entered the Recovery Street Film Festival.

This blog is part of our 'Creativity and recovery' blog series.

This year we are supporting Recovery Street Film Festival, which takes place in September 2018, to empower more people affected by addiction to share their story through film, using creativity as a tool in their recovery.

In 2015 Kelly was sleeping rough on the streets of London with no support network. Her children had been taken into care and she was unsure how long she would survive. In 2017 Kelly's story, told in a film by Jeremiah Quinn, won the Recovery Street Film Festival.

Here’s Kelly’s story.

Kelly's story

I was at the end of a very long, treacherous road. I was beaten down and I was alone. I was homeless. My children had been taken into care. I had no family around me, I had no friends around me. I was completely isolated, a shell of a person. I couldn’t see a way out of it. I knew there was something that needed to be done but I didn’t know how to get the help and I didn’t know if I could actually do it after 16 years of dependency. Everything in my life was a question mark.

It was on a Monday morning when I made the decision to make my way to Steps to Recovery, a charity set up to help people who are looking to turn their lives around from chaos and addiction. They provided me with a room and with treatment to help me to become sober. That moment changed my life.

A few months later I was in recovery and no longer homeless. Steps to Recovery encouraged me to take part in the Recovery Street Film Festival. My biggest motivator in taking part was to let people know that if I can recover, then so can they. Part of the process of being in recovery is giving back to others in recovery. I was really nervous when I was told I was going to meet this guy at Trafalgar Square so he could film where I used to live on the streets. I was nervous about what he was going to ask me and what was expected of me.

I met Jeremiah, who was making the film, and he put me at ease completely. I just told my story to him and didn’t think about anyone seeing it. I never thought so many people would see it and come up to me and say, “I saw your film, it was amazing.”

The biggest thing I learnt from the experience was that I have the ability to get a message across just by being myself. I’m just telling my story. I’ve lived it, that’s all I’m talking about. When someone gets impacted by that it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Knowing that it can reach someone, knowing that someone can hear my story and it be similar to theirs and they can recognise that change is possible.

When I got told I had won, I was going through a difficult time. It was like a silver lining. I thought, how wonderful, someone’s thought that much of the film to give it first place. It made what was happening a little easier.

As a judge for the festival this year I will be looking for authenticity, simple as that. I don’t need to see loads of bells and whistles and clever effects. I just want to see someone telling their story, making it real. When something is simple you get less distracted and can pay attention to the story you’re being told.

By taking part in the festival you’ve got the chance of not only changing your life but someone else’s too. Even if it’s one in a million, it’s worth it. Seeing your video might be that lightbulb moment someone needs.

You can watch Kelly's Story here.

About Recovery Street Film Festival

Recovery Street Film Festival not only shines a light on people’s personal journeys, but helps to rebuild some of the community they can lose when in addiction. The theme of this year's festival is ‘My lightbulb moment’. Find out more.