• Mimi Robinson of Reform Beenleigh and Michaela Porter of Nightlight

Beating addiction: how Mimi is using lived experience to help others

As the founder of Reform Beenleigh, Mimi Robinson spends her days supporting people struggling with addiction, working with them as they move towards sobriety.

She gave up a job as a medic to do this voluntary role, which is as challenging as it is rewarding – and there’s a reason it was so important to her.

When Mimi works with people in the grip of addiction, she sees her past self.

Mimi spent years addicted to ice, due to harboured trauma, and became unrecognisable to her family as she entered a world of crime, violence and unpredictability.

After being the victim of a violent home invasion saw friends injured and her partner arrested after their home was searched, Mimi made a decision which changed the course of her life.

Enough was enough.

“It was a real moment of clarity where I just thought, ‘what am I doing?’,” says Mimi.

She made a deal with her partner that they would turn their backs on the lives they had been living.

“My first stop was to my mum, and I detoxed by myself in her home,” says Mimi.

“She was so relieved; when I was addicted, she would sleep with a knife under her pillow because she didn’t know who I would bring home. She didn’t feel safe.”

“My role offers peer support to help with connections and guiding people through that path – and also staying with them on the journey so that they feel strong enough to see it through.”

— Mimi Robinson

Mimi and her partner rebuilt their lives, and soon Mimi decided to leave her job to help those who hadn’t yet beaten their addiction.

She says her lived experience and role as a supporter helped people deal with a system that could be daunting.

“A lot of services can be quite complex to navigate, or there might be a long waiting list for rehab or counselling, or there is a cost involved,” she says.

“For many people, that means that while they are waiting, they lose the drive to beat their addiction. My role offers peer support to help with connections and guiding people through that path – and also staying with them on the journey so that they feel strong enough to see it through.”

Mimi works in partnership with Nightlight, a Beenleigh-based not-for-profit offering crisis outreach, food and support to families and individuals experiencing homelessness or hardship. Reform Beenleigh’s office is also housed with Nightlight’s offices.

“For us, Mimi provides that missing link with Reform Recovery,” says Michaela Porter, who runs Nightlight with husband John.

“We can provide food and blankets, and things like clothing, and we can guide people in some ways – but we didn’t have the expertise in drugs, which is a factor for many of the people we meet.”

Mimi attend nightlights outreach every Thursday night 6.30 pm at Beenleigh train station and talks to the community there. Her contact details are also on a resource sheet given to locals who come home from prison.

“Working with the people I do is so rewarding, and to be with them as they go along this journey is amazing,” says Mimi.

“Being able to do it with Nighlight is even better because, while I can offer something that they don’t – they can also provide many of the people I work with with extra help too, like food or furniture or extra support.”

You can find out more about Reform Beenleigh on their website and Facebook page. Reform and Nightlight are run on donations – you can support them here and here.

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