An ex-soldier who has struggled with drug addiction and PTSD is getting his life back on track thanks to a social enterprise that helps vulnerable people.
Danny Chard, 33, says his life spiralled out of control after leaving the army when he ended up sleeping rough on the streets of Wrexham, getting in trouble with the law and being hooked on cocaine.
But he has found a new purpose in life thanks to the support he’s received from Yellow and Blue and he now volunteers at their community hub in Henblas Street in the town centre.
Danny told his story during a visit by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin who is a big fan of the organisation.
Yellow and Blue was founded by local plumbing and heating contractor Pete Humphreys following the death of his dad, also called Pete, and a close friend who both had bowel cancer.
It’s dedicated to helping vulnerable people and anyone facing short term or long-term hardship, illness, disability or is struggling physically and mentally.
Demand for their support rocketed during the pandemic and amongst other things they provided 21,000 free meals in a year during lockdown.
He said: “After I came back to Wrexham I was struggling with mental health issues but unfortunately, I turned to drugs, cannabis and cocaine.
“For the last 15 years, I’ve been fighting drug addiction, in and out of prison and things like that.
“I am clean of cocaine at the minute but I wouldn’t say I’m fixed. I’m at the stage they call ‘white knuckling’ but the support I get here is a massive help.
“I came to Yellow and Blue at the beginning of November because myself and my partner were street homeless, just asking for help because we’d been everywhere else and we just kept getting passed from pillar to post.
“The first thing Pete did was give us a hot drink, give us a meal and asked us if we needed any clothes. He treated us with respect. He didn’t look down on us. I had a chat with him and we’ve gone on from there.
“I know what his aim is and what his vision is and I like where it’s going. I like what he’s doing with the local community and the immediate needs of the community, so I started volunteering.”
“The most important thing is the respect we get here. We’re all human.”
Commissioner Dunbobbin was grateful to Danny for sharing his experiences which illustrated the “transformational impact” Yellow and Blue was having on the lives of the people who turned to them in their hour of need.
He said: “Yellow and Blue is a brilliant social enterprise and the work they do here is just phenomenal.
“They support all different types of people of various backgrounds, it doesn’t matter, who might otherwise fall through the cracks in the system.
“There is a great deal of peer support available here and people are signposted to the right places to get themselves housed or if they want a job or help of any other sort.
“It’s all driven by the vision of one man, Pete Humphreys, and it’s a fantastic tribute to his dad and his friend who inspired him. I’m sure they’re looking down on him with great pride.
“What they’re achieving at Yellow and Blue is also a great credit to the local businesses who support them.
“This is a model that could be replicated anywhere and it would be great if something similar was established in other towns across North Wales.”
Pete set up Yellow and Blue after overcoming mental health issues following the death of his dad and his close friend
He said: “I was up on Chirk bridge and ready to jump. I was suicidal because I’d had enough of life even though I’ve always had my own business and I’ve got a master’s degree.
“My mum came to get me from the bridge and took me home and took me to the hospital. The only reason I didn’t end up being sectioned was that she said she’d look after me.
“When I started going through all these treatment processes and joining these groups, I started meeting these other lads who didn’t have a mum.
“That’s why I support everybody with mental health here. I take people from recovery, give them opportunities, jobs and things like that.
“I still do plumbing occasionally but Yellow and Blue takes up all my time.
“We had £10,000 from the National Lottery at the beginning but we are struggling for funding and we’re surviving day by day.
“We really need all the help we can get. We need multi-year funding now for sustainability so I don’t have to worry about the next month’s rent and things like that.”