Darren Armstrong, who funded his habit by committing robberies and thefts, spent years in and out of prison.
But in 2004 he attended Kings Church in Knowsley Street in Bolton which he says helped him to change his life, and now he wants to help others do the same.
He is launching the Be Strong project this month, which helps people who have recently come out of prison.
There are personal development classes to help look for employment opportunities, and they are given free gym access, which has been paid for by a £2,600 grant from UnLtd Millennium Awards.
Mr Armstrong, aged 34, of Radcliffe, said when he was released from prison he would always end up turning to crime because of a lack of support.
He said: “Every time I came out of prison, I looked really well and was fit and healthy but the support network was just not there.
“I couldn’t afford to maintain my fitness because I was on benefits and so I just turned to what I knew best, which was drugs and crime.”
He hopes the project’s 12 week programmes will give those who sign up something to focus on and motivate them.
The father-of-five said: “I want to give something back to the community and I believe that this will make a difference and help people.
“I feel very strongly about this project and I have been working on it for the past 12 months to get it off the ground.”
Jimmy Bentley, aged 29, a former heroin addict from Deane, was released from prison in October after serving a 10 year sentence for robbery.
He said: “I want to change and I think this will give me the chance to change for the better.
“While I have been inside I have done various courses, including an NVQ in brick laying and I want to get a job.
“I was only a kid when I was sent to prison, but I have learned a lot about what I want to get from life. I feel I have learned my lesson”
Copyright – Bolton News 2011