Inclusive world

Shaw Trust stories | 2017

For over 35 years we've been helping people recognise and fulfil their potential. For many people we simply offer support at critical times during their personal journey. For others we make a life-changing impact, transforming their confidence and health so they lead happier independent lives. We help them realise they have something to offer and that they are important. Our ambition by 2022 is to help one million people to transform their lives each year and to create inclusive communities.

Here are some of their stories...

Charlene's story

"I struggled with my mental health. I ended up drinking and doing drugs every day. I met my now ex-husband. He took me away from my friends and family. We physically and mentally abused each other.

I was feeling very unstable. That's when I threatened to kill.

I went to prison – it was a wake-up call.

I got a suspended sentence. I wasn’t in a good place – experiencing anxiety, depression and agoraphobia, and hallucinating. I couldn’t make eye contact with people. I was hostile.

Somehow I started getting better. And I was introduced to Shaw Trust. I didn’t want their help. But then I learnt to trust. I started to feel calmer, more confident. My case manager found me accommodation and helped get mental health support. He suggested interesting things to develop my skills.

With his help, I got a job at a charity shop. I also joined the Prince’s Trust Enterprise scheme. I want to run a business, And I’ve got a mentor who keeps me on track. A major turning point was when I completed the induction day. To be accepted and be laughing with people meant a lot.

I’ve come such a long way. It is possible if you’ve got someone supporting you. I look forward to what the future brings."

Chris's story

"I thought my life had ended. I was suffering really badly with depression and anxiety, and tried to commit suicide. I couldn't bring myself to talk to people. I used to stay indoors most days. I felt my life was meaningless.

I came to the Live Well Kent centre from another service. I needed help.

I learnt about the gardening project and I thought I’d try it. At the start it wasn’t doing anything. I still thought I was worthless and I wasn’t going anywhere.

And then it all changed.

The work in the garden gave me a purpose. I had a reason to get up and I was feeling so much better.

I enjoy being outdoors, being active. I have more responsibility and I am a volunteer mentor for clients. It’s really good to see the change in others when, with time, they open up, And it’s nice to know I have helped a bit towards making them like that.

Coming here now is like seeing my family, we’ve got a little community. I know I won’t be judged.

I’ve been given a lifeline and I want to do the same for others."

Clare's story

"I completed Shaw Trust's Work Programme to help me back into work. The local store was opening and I wanted to get some practical experience after having done training courses. I joined as a volunteer and quickly discovered that I had a skill for display and really enjoyed it!

My current role involves dressing all the windows, gondolas and displays, having selected and sorted the stock. I also sometimes jump on the till.

I get a real sense of pride from what I do. Being in front of customers has built up my confidence. I’m happy to be helping a charity and they’re also helping me. I find it hard to meet people but I’ve built a friendship group here.

It’s good to be a part of something.

I know working here puts me in a better position for going into a retail job. I’d like something where I could train in visual merchandising. This has been a great opportunity to build a portfolio. But we are a team here, so when I get a job I will try and come back to help."

Lachlan's story

"I have learning difficulties, complex medical needs and a hearing impairment. All this has made choosing options after college difficult which made me really anxious. To help me decide I got involved with a new study programme – a supported internship – to see what working life was really all about.

I was interested in care work and the staff found me a placement in the sector. I spent three days a week at work, learning all the skills required to do the job. I was supported by mentors and I even completed a job-specific qualification! The other two days per week I went to college.

Towards the end of my placement, I was offered a part-time job! I can't wait to start.

I am so grateful to everybody at the college who has supported me on my journey.

I am also proud to say that I will be helping others, as so many people have helped me and cared for me in the past. I overcame cancer at the age of three, so I feel I have already achieved so much in my life. I am excited about my future after leaving college."

Matthew's story

"When I first joined Palmer Gardens I was struggling to engage in the classroom. I was meant to go to college and I was really anxious about two more years of studying. I've always preferred to work outside and I didn’t like reading and spelling.

When I first came here, I didn’t think I was able of doing much so I didn’t like trying anything new.

But with the help of the staff I became more confident.

Coming to Palmer Gardens was much better than studying at school because I learn better actually doing the work. I don’t mind reading and spelling now because the groups we worked in were so small. The best thing I have learnt here is how to use the till and serve customers. Using the till has helped me with my maths.

I now happily speak to anyone. I even started delivering to customers in their homes. I have also completed all my training at college.

I have now finished my placement and got a full-time job at Sainsbury’s as a General Assistant."

Hayley's story

"I had previously done an apprenticeship in hairdressing but it wasn't right for me. I had lost a lot of confidence. I have dyslexia and I felt it was stopping me from doing well. I’ve been through a lot myself so I decided I wanted a job in care.

I was fed up of being the person with problems.

I didn’t want to be in a situation where I’m different from everybody again, I just wanted to be like everybody else. I wanted to prove to others that I could do it.

Shaw Trust helped me through group sessions such as writing cover letters and job application support. My confidence grew and I started to apply for roles online and contacting employers by telephone.

I ended up having two roles to consider and I now have a full-time job as a care assistant. I work with so many different people: the elderly, people with mental health conditions, and young people.

I’ve built close relationships with them, they share things with me they don’t tell other people. I feel that I can change their lives. And I finally feel good in myself."

Gary's story

"When I arrived I took one step forward and I thought: Do I step in or do I run away? But I knew I needed help so I came in.

I found out about the service when I was in a recovery group. I was experiencing anxiety and had low self-esteem and psychosis. I didn't like to be around people.

One option was starting a gardening team. The garden was huge and unkempt. I saw the potential of what we had here and for the first time I had a glimmer of hope. I knew it would take away the bad thoughts I was having at the time.

Together with others I cleared the land, exposed plants and bushes, looking to see what we could salvage. And soon we started to see some progress. It was great for my self-esteem. By coming to the centre each day I feel a sense of achievement. It made me feel that there was hope.

I now have the confidence to be around people.

I can do more, I can go to public spaces. I don’t experience so much anxiety. Over the months, I’ve moved from being a mental health client to a volunteer helping others.

And together we can see that what we’re doing is helping us get better."

Sean's story

"I have cerebral palsy and moderate learning disabilities. It makes me even more determined to reach my goals in life.

It was at Blackfriars Academy where I first discovered my talent for sprinting. I have competed in a number of global tournaments, including the IWAS World Junior Games in Holland where I become a double world champion.

I am proud of the qualifications, awards and sporting accolades I achieved over the past years.

I train four times a week. When I am not training, I do conditioning work at home. I have also followed a supported internship programme with Loughborough University my school helped me get. I get to coach and train young talent. And I can upskill in preparation for my future career.

I was honoured to win an 'Our Heroes award' in my home city, Stoke-On-Trent, where the local newspaper gave me the Bright Young Thing title. My next goals are to fulfill my ambition of reaching the Paralympics and to continue to develop with Loughborough University.

I am grateful to everyone who has supported me to achieve my aspirations."