GiveGetGo Volunteer John on how his journey with TLC took him to Sunderland

Just a few short months ago, after a long period of mental health problems, a period of homelessness and issues with Alcohol, I was beginning to recover and settle into my new home in Liverpool.  Using creative play as a distraction from the isolation I felt being alone in a new city, I quietly began to try and rebuild my life.

However, Universal Credit decided I had to start seeking employment, but I was really struggling to even begin to find a way back into work, education or training.

After a false start with a few suggested options via my local Job Centre, I was, by chance, introduced to Sharon Lane at Give Get Go, a part of Transform Lives. After a brief conversation, I was given the chance to join their program, aimed at assisting people to rediscover their potential in order to gain employment or follow another suitable path.

Despite the course being something that I looked forward to and felt I was gaining from, I wasn’t able to complete the sessions for personal reasons.

However, I wasn’t cast aside and left to deal with my issues alone.

Sharon had taken the time to invest in me as a human being and not just a box to tick.  Sharon took me aside and pointed me in a direction where I could get the help and support that I needed at that time. I trusted her advice, spent time dealing with my problems and over a period of a few months, things began to positively change for me. I stopped drinking. I accepted help and advice.  I joined a choir and started to make new friends. Then with Sharon’s assistance, I started volunteering at the Unity Theatre. My confidence, my self-esteem, began to re-emerge. Small positive steps began to reap rewards.

Then came an amazing offer to be a guest delegate at a conference with Transform Lives.

I was delighted to have been offered the opportunity to attend the People’s Powerhouse event, I was a little unsure what to expect, but I gathered together some of my creative pieces, printed them, at home, on the tightest of budgets and took them to Sunderland.

Being involved, has been a revelation for me. I want to thank Sophie, for taking the stress out of the experience and making it an enjoyable, memorable one.  I don’t think I had smiled as much all year, as I did over the two days.  Transform Lives covered everything and I was truly made to feel part of the team.

I had the chance to engage with a variety of people from a range of projects and organisations, something I found was insightful and valuable.  It was a wonderfully informal atmosphere that promoted open discussion.

I was able to involve myself in a couple of the great break out sessions and get a feel for the great work, projects and ideas that are happening across the North. I am grateful to Transform Lives for their support and the invitation to take part, to display some of my artwork for the very first time and share the ideas behind my pieces.

I am following up the experience by connecting with some delegates from one of the attended sessions, something I would have found very difficult to do just a few months ago. I hope that other connections will also lead to further discussion and involvement. I am so hopeful for the potential that 2020 may bring.

Thank you, each and everyone.

John