A drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity which helped turn a young woman’s life around has been thanked with a £106,000 donation from her former employer.
Emily McMillan was at rock bottom when she first came into contact with Focus12, in Bury St Edmunds, in 2010.
Her spiralling drug habit had led to some poor decision making and she was left facing time behind bars for multiple counts of fraud and theft.
She was working as a PA at a top London banking firm when she stole money to fund her escalating drug addiction.
She also used corporate credit cards to purchase gifts for friends, including a holiday and cosmetic surgery.
The then-28-year-old was spared prison after managing to impress an Old Bailey judge with her efforts to turn over a new leaf – something she says she could not have done without the help of Focus12.
Emily’s court case was high profile and she made the headlines in most, if not all, of the national newspapers, but Clive and Deborah Morris, of Chevington Finance and Leasing, decided to give her a chance and offer her a job anyway.
They already knew Emily, having employed her in their previous business, and felt she was a ‘genuinely nice person’ who had found herself in a ‘desperate situation’ as a result of drugs being made available to her while she was ‘young and impressionable’.
Mrs Morris said: “We had total faith that she was going to turn her life around so we said ‘we’ve got a place for you if you want it’.
“She’s a fantastic employee, a great friend and a very bright person and it was circumstances that got her into that situation.
“She wasn’t a bad person and she was very lucky she had the support of Focus12, particularly Chip Somers (the charity’s founder) – he was brilliant and totally believed in her.”
“We’d like to think that if another Emily walked through the door we’d give them the same opportunity,” she added.
Mr and Mrs Morris were so impressed by Focus12’s abstinence-based approach to treatment and how ‘people come out and are in a position to reach their full potential in life’ that they decided they wanted to make a donation.
Over the past four years they have given the charity £106,000 – the last £6,000 in celebration of Emily reaching her six years ‘clean’ milestone last month.
Now engaged to be married and mother to a beautiful 10-month-old daughter, Emily is proof there is life after addiction.
The 33-year-old, who now works at Focus12, said: “Whilst I will always regret what happened, I will be eternally grateful to Focus12 and Chevington Finance for supporting me through such a difficult time.
“Deborah and Clive were especially kind and generous for giving me an opportunity to turn my life around.
“Without a job at that incredibly vulnerable time, I could have turned to drugs again and if that had happened there’s every likelihood I wouldn’t be alive today.
“That’s why I’m particularly proud to be working for an organisation that continues saving lives and spends time via campaigns destigmatising addiction and assisting people back into employment.”