2015 sees the start of a brand new season in my life and one that excites me with the prospect of being able to do some things that I have felt unable to do for some time. For most of 2014 I had been consulting with Burnley Restart, part of the NHS, who were helping me with issues related to anxiety and loss of confidence. My conditions were so severe that I found it difficult to engage in any group situations, making the thought of employment an impossible one for me.
In October I was introduced to the Street Soccer Academy regional centre in Accrington, to get involved in their football sessions on a Thursday afternoon. At first I was supported in my visits to the centre by the people from Restart but over a period of time I found I was able to attend the sessions without this additional support. For me, active involvement in a physical activity has some positive effects on my physical and mental health, but it was the wrap-around support given to me by the staff and volunteers of Community Solutions (the organisation that run the SSA regional centre) that made the biggest difference and had the most positive impact on my wellbeing. Being actively encouraged to assist in the practical delivery of sessions and being challenged to speak openly in front of my peers had a massive impact on me. Additionally, the 24/7 support of my regional manager, who made himself available to talk at any time meant the isolation that I often felt soon went away.
In a very short space of time I felt like I was in control of my problems with anxiety and my confidence was stronger. This was recognised by my case workers at Restart who were able to discharge from their care just before Christmas. I feel I am in a much better place now in terms of my wellbeing and I am currently in the process of applying to Community Solutions for a voluntary position in their Food Bank. This is a small way is a way of me thanking everyone who has supported me and to give something in return. It is a significant step in me achieving my ultimate goal of being able to hold down full-time employment and to overcoming, what for me felt like, impossible barriers.