Princess Anne visits Bristol charities
THE Princess Royal visited two Bristol charities which make a huge difference to the lives of the people they support during a visit to the city.
She first met people who had overcome drug and alcohol dependence with the help of the Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA) in King Street yesterday morning.
In the afternoon she moved on to visit the charity Sense in Kingswood to see its newly developed residential flats for people who are deaf and blind.
The Princess was greeted by Bristol's Lord Lieutenant Mary Prior and the Lord Mayor Peter Main as she drove her own car into King Street yesterday morning.
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She went on to meet clients of ARA who have had treatment to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol.
One of those she met was Karl Cullen, 38, who currently lives in a dry house in Brislington.
He found his way to the charity after coming out of prison in August last year.
"After I was released I attended a couple of day programmes at ARA," he said.
"They helped massively – I started to find things out about myself.
"I had a real lack of self confidence and self esteem and ARA really helped me develop some.
"I don't use drink or drugs anymore and am now looking to do some voluntary work and eventually live independently."
Another who met The Princess was Dante Bergson, 37, who lives in a dry house in Eastville.
He has been working with ARA for six weeks, attending group and one-to-one sessions.
"Coming to ARA has really helped me to address my emotions," he said.
"I had been a drug taker for the last 25 years and was leading a really chaotic lifestyle.
"Often the trigger for taking drugs was due to not being able to express my emotions. ARA has given me a new perspective on life."
Mr Bergson is hoping to stay addiction free and eventually reconnect with his two children.
The princess went on to meet staff, volunteers, board members and trustees of the charity before unveiling a Bristol blue glass plaque marking the charity's 25th anniversary.
In the afternoon Her Royal Highness visited the charity Sense in Kingswood.
As well as seeing newly developed flats, which meet the specific needs of deaf and blind people, she also opened a new ICT suite – called the Leaf Room – for children who are deaf and blind at Sense's Woodside Family Centre.
Peter Cheer, director of operational services for Sense, said: "We are thrilled to have welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to visit our services in Bristol and find out about some of the exciting developments that have been taking place within our community services.
"We think these are great examples of how quite small amounts of appropriately trained one to one support can make real differences to the independence and wellbeing of deaf-blind adults and children."
"These developments would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions of donors and charitable trusts as well as our local authority partners and we would like to thank them for their continued support."