WHEN Stephanie Tweed steps out this weekend to represent her country in the Homeless World Cup, it will mark an incredible step on her journey to recovery from drug addiction.
Steph, 21, from Edinburgh, used heroin and valium from an early age and ended up losing her home.
After finding herself on the streets, she was eventually placed in Dunedin Canmore’s homeless hostel in Leith and as part of the support offered there she was encouraged to take up football sessions.
“I’ve loved football since I was a kid. It was the one place I could leave my problems behind,” she said.
Steph will take centre stage as a striker for the Scotland women’s team at the Homeless World Cup, which takes place in Glasgow’s George Square from July 10-16.
But none of it would have been possible without the chances she was given through her football training sessions, run in partnership between Dunedin Canmore - which is part of Wheatley Group - and Street Soccer Scotland.
The support she received from team mates and coaches helped her confidence, self-belief and focus grow. Her life is now back on track and she is looking forward to moving into a home of her own.
“When I was told I had a chance of making the Homeless World Cup team if I kept my head down and stayed off drugs it really kept me focused and I’ve been clean now for over six months,” she said.
Steph now lives in a Dunedin Canmore supported tenancy in Gorgie. The tenancy is part of a resettlement scheme which helps homeless people learn about managing a home. If it is successful they are offered a permanent tenancy with Dunedin Canmore.
“The hostel was great,” said Steph. “It helped me get back on my feet and I love living in my flat and having my freedom.
“I wouldn’t be here without the help of the people at Dunedin. I’m rebuilding relationships with my mum and two younger brothers, something I couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago.
“They are so proud of me for sticking to my commitment with the Homeless World Cup and can’t wait to cheer me on. I’m nervous but excited about getting on to the pitch and enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I won’t let any of the opportunities coming my way pass me by.”
After the Homeless World Cup, Steph said she wants to give something back and plans to volunteer at Street Soccer Scotland by coaching at the football sessions she got so much from.