Entangled in drug-running, Hannah Soar’s life came to an abrupt crossroads at Leeds train station.
Shocked and petrified as to what could happen if the dogs came remotely close to her, Hannah screamed within herself: “God, if you get me out of this situation, I’ll never do this again.”
Preparing to step off her carriage as she approached the station, Hannah – loaded with cocaine – spotted two sniffer dogs on the platform.
It was a frightening, chaotic moment which skewed choices and bad decisions had led her to.
From a young age, Hannah could sense a feeling of emptiness. Unsettled, pretending to be someone she wasn’t, getting into trouble at school, she knew she needed help, but didn’t know who to ask or even what to ask for.
God, if you get me out of this situation, I’ll never do this again.Hannah
Hope lit her path though in the form of her best friend who had begun to quietly attend church, with Hannah noticing refreshing, positive changes in her friend’s behaviour.
The friend invited her along to a youth event, which Hannah attended with the sole intention of “destroying” the gathering.
The kindness of the youth leaders softened her though, with Hannah being struck by the fact they seemed to genuinely want to hang out with her.
“They saw something different in me, which I didn’t see,” Hannah says. “They listened to me and didn’t judge me. For the first time, I could open up to someone.”
It was at around this time that Hannah – battling to feed a £100-a-day cocaine habit – found herself facing two sniffer dogs, and a potential jail term, at Leeds train station.
Somehow, Hannah made it through and exited the platform with her packages unnoticed.
Knowing that she needed to make drastic changes, she soon entered women’s addiction recovery centre, Benaiah, in the north east of Scotland.
In Benaiah, stripped of drink and drugs, Hannah got a sobering realisation of just how much damage her substance abuse had done.
“I couldn’t look people in the eyes – all my confidence had gone. I looked like I didn’t want to be there but the reality was that I was actually desperate to be there and to get the help that was on offer.
“As time went on I started to get more and more confident, growing into myself and finding out who I was as a person – discovering what I liked and didn’t like – not allowing other people to sway me.
“I changed as a person massively and the key to the transformation was really opening up in my counselling sessions. I tried my best to make the most of evey hour I had in there.
“What I found was that whatever God brought up in my life in Teen Challenge, I had to deal with it. I knew I would never get the opportunity and time to self-care like that again.
“After graduating the programme in 2015, I went on to study at Sheffield Hallam University, achieving a 1st Class BA Hons in Photography, and I now have my very own commercial photography business.
“Every day I use my photography skills to show off the best of people and businesses – kind of like what God does with us.
“The reality is that bad stuff still happens. The difference is I’ve learned to deal with things better now, walking day by day, going from strength to strength, truly enjoying life.”