A successful bass player, who has performed with Mick Jagger, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Seal and Elton John, but found himself addicted to drugs, spoke at a football tournament for The Salvation Army’s homeless centres to urge others that they can recover and live a fulfilling life.
Phil Spalding (right), 55, is now a Hepatitis C adviser with Swindon & Wiltshire Alcohol and Drug Service, and lives in a Salvation Army Housing Association flat in Swindon.
Phil attended The Salvation Army’s annual 5-a-side football tournament, The Partnership Trophy on Thursday October 10, to talk to those from the Army’s Lifehouses and centres about his own experiences as a former drug user.
Phil became addicted to a range of narcotics including heroine, cocaine, valium, cannabis as well as alcohol. It was a long journey. The realisation he needed to break his addiction came when he was standing in court for drug-related offences.
His mother, a committed member of The Salvation Army, persuaded him to stay at The Salvation Army’s Gloucester House in 2005.
Gloucester House in Highworth, near Swindon, is a care quality commission registered treatment centre which provides residential rehabilitation for people with substance misuse, drug, and alcohol misuse.
When Phil arrived he went on a 21-day detox and has now been clean for eight years.
He said: “The light bulb went on for me when I was in court for petty drug-related crime – although no crime is petty – but I knew then that I needed to get help. I want to let people, who have been in similar situations to me, know that you can come out of it
"I came out of it, and you can have a fulfilling life afterwards and do something worthwhile. I know what drug addiction is like, and thanks to The Salvation Army, I have come through it and my life has changed for the better.”
Hundreds of people from The Salvation Army’s homeless centres came together for the five-a-side football tournament in Birmingham including a team from the Army’s Booth House Lifehouse in Spring Close, Swindon.
They were joined by Peter Shilton OBE (right), the most capped England Player of all time, who presented the trophies to the winning team as well as running a penalty shootout master class, in the afternoon. He also offered guidance and support to the teams taking part and gave a brief overview of his career.
The former England player represented his country 125 times and during his playing career received an MBE and OBE for services to football. Following his retirement from international football he was awarded the prestigious Order of Merit by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
The Army’s Partnership Trophy is an annual event for homeless men and women living in Salvation Army Lifehouses and other supported housing units run by The Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA) at the Power League Stadium.
Last year a team from Booth House in Whitechapel, London won the trophy. The winners then took to the field in a charity football game against 11 MPs and parliamentary staff in June. The match aimed to raise awareness of the issues of homelessness and to celebrate the achievements of the winning team.
This year 40 teams took part – with people from Lifehouses across the country competing in the tournament and as far afield as Scotland, Ireland and Southampton.
Mitch Menagh, The Salvation Army’s Territorial Director of Homelessness Services, said: “We put on the tournament each year because it gives the homeless men and women at our centres a great sense of achievement, purpose and self-confidence. It is also great because they can work in a team and it creates a sense of community.
“As a Church and a charity we care about the whole person – and we believe that this sort of event can really help to build confidence and important life skills. It’s a really enjoyable day and a highlight for many.
“All of our Lifehouses offer a range of support to help break the cycle of homelessness. We do this by offering a compassionate, listening ear, education, training, volunteering, employment skills and much more.”
Anthony Tate, 28, was one of those who competed in last year’s Partnership Trophy. He also played in the football match against a group of MPs.
Anthony was staying on people’s sofas before he was given a place at Booth House in London.
He said: “It was hard just sleeping on people’s sofas. I wanted to get a flat of my own, and the staff at the Lifehouse helped me to do this. I am really grateful to them. It was brilliant to play in the Partnership Trophy – it was such a good day. I would recommend anyone staying in a Lifehouse to take part.”
Peter Shilton OBE, prior to the event, said: "The Salvation Army’s Lifehouses are incredibly inspiring places and as a former international footballer it’s great to see The Army is using football to help develop people’s confidence and life skills. I am very much looking forward to being part of the day and seeing how the homeless men and women are given a sense of purpose and integration with others through the tournament."
Pret-a-Manger provided lunch for all the competitors free of charge.