Scary treat for Daniel

A Borders man says he has found himself able to find joy and a sense of community once again through regular visits to a Galashiels gaming café.

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 1:11 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 11:18 am
Geek Retreat staff member Callum Douglas in the new Escape Room.
Geek Retreat staff member Callum Douglas in the new Escape Room.

And, with his 29th birthday coming up, staff at Geek Retreat, in the town’s Channel Street, decided to celebrate by providing him with a free trip to their new murder mystery escape room “Escape the Reaper”, worth £80.

The lucky regular, who goes by the name Daniel, is a client of the recently-launched Cyrenians Housing First Borders support service.

After dealing with homelessness since he was 18 and struggling with reading all his life, Daniel’s weekly game sessions at the café has hugely improved his literacy in just a few months.

Think you can Escape the Reaper?

Plus, the confidence and friendships he’s gained has created a space for him to give back to the community.

Daniel told us: “It’s hard to put your life back together after everything … I went down this bad path and when I came back everyone was gone – I didn’t know how to start again.

"But I’m welcome here any time – they’re actually trying to do something with this place, make a difference in the community.

"I’m trying to do that too – I want to be able to offer support to stop kids having a bad time like I did.”

Charlie Dawson, manager at Geek Retreat, said: “Daniel’s been at the heart of the Geek Retreat community for a while now. The team wanted to do something nice for his birthday, and we opened a brand new escape room recently, so we offered him a free experience to celebrate.

“Geek Retreat is a lot of things – a gaming space, a café, we now have the escape room and community space, but most of all it’s a safe, non-judgemental place to find your people.”

Max Allen, Daniel’s Cyrenians Housing First support worker, added: “Daniel’s so much more comfortable now than when I first met him.

"Like all of us, he needed connection to people, and Geek Retreat has been a great space for that.

"That kind of relationship building is what Housing First is all about.

“Because Daniel's had this space to do things he loves, he’s been able to put so much back into the community.”