The Mouth – Bournemouth – Poole – Christchurch

Steve gives his Backing to Boscombe with Give or Take days

A former alcoholic who attended rehab in Boscombe is giving back to his community with a project to help low income residents.

For decades 61-year-old Steve Butterworth drank two bottles of whisky a day. His addiction triggered severe health problems and he lost his job, his Parkstone home and relationships with friends and family.

But nine years after he was successfully treated at a rehabilitation centre he’s taking an active role in Bournemouth Council’s Give or Take Days – leading the event in Roumelia Lane. Give or Take Days started as a recycling initiative, to encourage people to allow others to re-use their unwanted items. People donate unwanted items and take other items for free. The Council-lead project, which has run successfully in Boscombe and other parts of the borough for a number of years, is providing household items, toys, books and even bikes to some of the town’s poorest residents. The Boscombe days are supported by the Connecting Communities fund.

Steve, who walks miles to distribute leaflets promoting the project, restores many of the more damaged items to their former glory before they’re given away. He’s telling his story for the first time in a bid to encourage others to come forward and support ‘Backing Boscombe’ – a campaign to improve the area run by the Boscombe Regeneration Partnership and Bournemouth 2026 in partnership with the Daily Echo.

He said: “I can’t bear to see perfectly good items thrown away when there are families who will put them to good use. I’ve always been interested in recycling and salvage. Boscombe has a very transient community and low income residents trying to set up home here can make good use of the things others would throw away.”

Steve had a successful career in IT but, haunted by childhood traumas, developed an alcohol addiction at the age of 21.

He said: “Once upon a time I had a third of an acre in Penn Hill and a family – but addiction destroyed my life; I lost my family, my friends, my home, my health and ended up sleeping in the car. But one day I woke up determined to get better.

“When I was drinking I was emotionally immature – rehab was a process of growing up and dealing with buried emotions. Now I have rebuilt relationships with my mother and sisters, I have a home and spend most of my time wood carving. I am incredibly grateful for the help I received and am determined to give back to Boscombe to somehow make up for what I took out.

“Seeing the reaction of people who are struggling to make ends meet when they come to our days and realise everything is free makes it all worthwhile. We see parents leaving with arms full of toys and residents taking many of the items they need to equip a home.”

Amanda Catlin, the Council’s Boscombe Neighbourhood Warden, said: “Steve is a real inspiration – and his enthusiasm and commitment to Boscombe and the Give or Take days is so impressive – he has even said that he hopes to run the days monthly. I hope his story will inspire other residents to volunteer in very practical ways to help Boscombe.”

Steve hopes his enterprise will soon gain charitable status. His next Give or Take day takes place on Saturday December 10 in Roumelia Lane. Call Steve on 01202 391297 to donate items or find out more.

To submit your vision for Boscombe or offer your help email bournemouth2026@bournemouth.gov.uk. The results will be considered by the Boscombe Regeneration Partnership and the final vision will be announced by the Daily Echo in the New Year and delivered through partnership working between Bournemouth Borough Council, Bournemouth 2026, the police, NHS, business and charity and voluntary sectors.

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