When Jake came to Step Forward Tees Valley, he was on probation, had experienced difficulties with substance misuse and poor mental health. His anxiety was so bad he struggled to go to new places and meet new people, which often resulted in panic attacks. He lived in isolation and had such low confidence, that it was hard for him to take positive steps to move forward with his life.

Today he is in a much better place. With the support of his Navigator Emily, Jake has been able to build his confidence, gain employability skills and has secured a volunteering placement. Currently, he has completed IA&G level 2 training and is now volunteering with Growing in Harmony, an outdoor project focused around organic food growing to prevent food waste and provide local naturally grown healthy food to people on a low income.

Jake began working with Step Forward Tees Valley in early 2017. Since then he has been supported with housing, finances, digital inclusion, mental health and last year began working with his Navigator to develop his employability skills.

Jake’s Navigator Emily was able to work with him and identify his goals and arranged sessions that could build his confidence and improve his employability skills. He showed real enthusiasm and attended all of the sessions he was offered. These included sessions to develop emotional resilience and help manage stress and anxiety. Sessions also covered goal setting, problem-solving and managing money.  He also attended ‘Journey into work’ which looks at improving skills around employability, job search, CV’s, and interview skills, as well as teaching customer service skill and Red Cross basic first aid at work training.

After completing his training Jake was fully supported to find the right volunteering placement for him. He was fully supported throughout the whole process, with appointments and visits arranged with local charities for him, so he could get an idea of the kind of placement that was right for him and he received help to complete his applications. After completing peer mentoring, the right place was found for him volunteering with ‘Growing in Harmony.’

 Jake has loved volunteering with growing in Harmony, which supports people facing difficulties and from a similar background. They aim to support people in challenging circumstances, prevent food waste and provide local naturally grown healthy food to people of all backgrounds including those on a low income. Volunteers find that working on this project has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing and they are provided training in horticulture, woodworking, sustainability and small animal care.

The team at Step Forward Tees Valley have noticed such a huge difference in Jake, since the first time he came to the service and are so proud of his hard work and the amazing progress he has made.

His Navigator Emily commented:

“Jake has made huge progress within himself and his skills. He has found a passion for wanting to help people from similar backgrounds to himself and to show that it is possible to change and have a positive and rewarding life. He has been able to attend training and meetings on his own and last week went to his first volunteering shift by himself and is continuing to do this without our support.

Jake is a different person from who we first met and has come so far, we have supported him but it all came from himself and his hard work. “

Changing Lives is part of a partnership delivering Step Forward Tees Valley, supporting local people to overcome the complex reasons preventing them from finding work. These barriers could include physical or mental ill-health, a lack of self-confidence, a skills gap, conviction or addiction.

We help people build on their strengths, using the skills and expertise of partners and local employers to achieve their goals and aspirations.

If you would like more information about the service or how to be referred, please see here.

*names have been changed to protect the identity of the people accessing our services, photo posed by model.

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