Volunteering award for Sheffield addict who turned life around

Addaction Sheffield volunteer Jock Hobson.
Addaction Sheffield volunteer Jock Hobson.
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A Sheffield man who battled drug addiction and spent time behind bars has won an award for his community work.

Jock Hobson, 54, is popular member of the Addaction Sheffield drugs intervention team, and later this month will visit the House of Lords to collect a volunteer award from the Marsh Christian Trust.

Born into a criminal family and addicted to amphetamines for 20 years, he was in a bad state when he approached Addaction two years ago.

But the service's support has helped him turn his life around and he now volunteers at the Sidney Street offices, helping others follow a similar path.

Jock, who describes himself as 'the original raver', said: “I’m chuffed to bits to win this award, and not just for the prestige. Although that’s nice, it’s more that people here have thought that I was good enough to be nominated. That’s what I’m so pleased about."

A spell in prison gave Jock time for reflection.

“When you’re born into a big, criminal family there’s no other option but to follow the pack or there’s trouble," he said.

"During my term in HMP Blakenhurst, I was lucky enough to have a fantastic, inspiring teacher. I got my English and Maths GCSE, then did a diploma in psychology and suddenly realised there was a whole different world out there and I wanted to be in it.

"With counselling and support I managed to quit drugs in nine months and then once I was out, I vowed I’d never go back.”

Jock is determined to make up for lost time and make a positive difference in the world. But he was terrified when he first approached Addaction.

“It’s a very scary thing to move out of your comfort zone," he said. "That’s why I can relate to many service users.

"To many of them a life of crime and drugs is the norm and it’s terrifying even contemplating anything else or being with other people who are different to you.

“Addiction is a very lonely place and I can relate to that – that’s why people in addiction or treatment relate to me - because they know that I know.”

Jock will pick up his award on November 30.

Criminal justice worker Melissa Carroll, who nominated him, said: “We’re very lucky at Addaction Sheffield to have Jock here.

“He has an amazing rapport with our service users. He makes them laugh, calls them up to see how they are, accompanies them to hospital and GP visits, collects them from prison and helps them readjust into the community once they’ve been released.

"If he doesn’t have anything in his calendar, he talks to the guys in the waiting room and puts them at ease, or he’ll ask around the office to see if anyone needs help.

“Although Jock is sensitive, compassionate and picks up any bad vibes straight away, he’s also liked and highly respected by our clients. Every service in the country needs someone like Jock.”

Addaction service manager Keeley Ward added: “We are all happy at Sheffield Addaction that Jock has won this award. It’s extremely well deserved.

"He makes our work so much easier and is brilliant with the service users. Jock’s upbeat, positive presence is a real tonic to all and we’re very lucky to have him here.”