Sheltered By Grace helps Kingston man save his marriage

HELPING OTHERS: Barry Gilchrist volunteers at Sheltered By Grace after battling with his own addiction. Photo: Jacob Wilson
HELPING OTHERS: Barry Gilchrist volunteers at Sheltered By Grace after battling with his own addiction. Photo: Jacob Wilson

BARRY Gilchrist almost lost his 30-year marriage to alcoholism, and now he is sharing his story to help others battle addiction.

The 58-year-old Kingston resident said he was spending between $200 and $300 a week on alcohol for three to four years before his wife took drastic action and moved him to a shelter in November 2015.

“My wife said move out or we are done so she found a spot for me (at Sheltered By Grace) and I moved in,” he said.

“I was there for ten months and I proved myself clean and my wife told me I could come back home. Seven days after I got back home I started volunteering at the shelter.”

Sheltered By Grace is a homeless shelter based at Waterford which helps a range of people in crisis.

Mr Gilchrist’s voluntary work at Sheltered by Grace is to relate to others who are experiencing the same struggles he dealt with.

“Volunteers help to keep the clients on track and my version of that is sharing my story and letting them know that I have been where they are now and can give insight into ways they could deal with what they are going through,” he said,

“I mix with the other clients and help out when I need to do room searches or bag checks which is a big part of making sure no illicit drugs or booze come in.”

Mr Gilchrist has not touched a drop of alcohol since he recovered in 2016 and said his wife was “over the moon” with his sobriety achievement in just 10 months.

But he admits the road to recovery was not easy.

“When you are an alcohol or drug addict, it is a daily struggle. You are always going to be a drug or alcohol addict,” he said.

“It is all about how you deal with it on a daily basis. Some days are good days and other days are really bad. As long as you have a network of people around you to talk to, it keeps you from imploding.”

Sheltered By Grace chairman Jason Loakes said it was the success stories like Barry Gilchrist which gave people hope.

“About 85 per cent of people who come to our shelter or any other one will fail,” he said.

“But the 15 per cent who get on their feet makes a huge difference. 

“That is what you hold on to …these people are stable for the first time in their life.”

The shelter is hosting a Dob In Your Boss Campout at 157 Old Logan Village Road from 6pm on June 16.

Business staff members can fundraise $250 to nominate their boss to sleep rough for the night.

Staff can make the sleep out even rougher with every additional $100 raised by throwing water balloons at the boss or feeding them bugs.

The boss can pay $250 to be exempt from the camp out.

Money raised will go toward supporting vulnerable people.

To express interest or register for the charity event email or call 3200 7145.

This will be just five days before the Vinnes CEO Sleepout on June 21.