Stockport Express

Cliff plunge woman getting her life back on track

- TODD FITZGERALD todd.fitzgerald@menmedia.co.uk @TFitzgeral­dMEN

AHOMELESS drug addict who fell 30ft off a cliff is out of hospital and looking to get clean – with the help of a woman she used to sleep rough with.

Emma Vellino fell down the muddy slope beside the River Mersey, as she was climbing into a network of hidden caves in Stockport used by rough sleepers.

The fall broke her back in two places. But now she is out of hospital – and hoping to turn her life around with the help of her old friend Kirstie Wood.

Kirstie, 27, has been clean for around two years after more than a decade taking class A drugs and sleeping rough – including, at times, with Emma.

She was once banned from every shop in Stockport and relied on The Wellspring homeless centre for help.

But after a stint in rehab, she kicked her habit and is now working for the Wellspring.

Kirstie said: “I’ve slept rough with Emma and taken drugs with her. I know what she’s been through and she knows what I’ve been through.

“My role at The Well- spring is to help mentor people and guide them. I know most of the people we help, I’ve been there with them.

“To be able to show them how far I’ve come and tell them they can do the same is amazing. Having that positive impact is really important.”

Kirstie added: “Emma is committed to starting on the right path, to get clean. We already have a connection and I believe that will help her.”

Emma said: “I’m still in a lot of pain. But I’m working with Kirstie and I’m doing okay.

“I want to kick the drugs. Kirstie has done it – look at her now. I could have a job at the Wellspring one day if I stop taking drugs.”

It was initially feared Emma may have had to return to the Stockport caves once she left Wythenshaw­e Hospital. But Wellspring manager Jonathan Billings helped find her temporary accommodat­ion nearby.

When the Express first revealed the plight of the cave’s ‘hidden homeless’, Jonathan warned it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt falling into the river. He has repeatedly called for more cash to help the town’s homeless.

Jonathan said: “Kirstie has done so well. The change in her has been remarkable.

“To be able to give her this opportunit­y was a pleasure. There’s no-one in a better position to help Emma than Kirstie, who has been there and turned things around.”

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 ?? Andy Lambert ?? Emma Vellino pictured at The Wellspring Stockport with friend Kirstie
Andy Lambert Emma Vellino pictured at The Wellspring Stockport with friend Kirstie
 ?? Joel Goodman ?? The dramatic rescue after Emma fell 30ft from the Stockport caves used by homeless people
Joel Goodman The dramatic rescue after Emma fell 30ft from the Stockport caves used by homeless people

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