Darren is 19 years old and has a history of depression and anxiety. Here he describes his journey through some very dark days and the help that he has received since he enrolled in Progress.
"After I left school in 2014, I went on to North Warwickshire and Hinckley College. I was on a foundation course to improve my English and math skills and the next year I joined a Public Services course. This is for young people who want jobs in the armed forces, security or emergency services. It was a difficult time for me. I wanted to join the police but my family wanted me to get a job and not stay on at college so I left. I was self-harming and was very depressed.
"I got a warehouse job through an agency. I worked for eight hours a day, five days a week on the 2 to 10pm shift. I did it for 10 weeks but it all got too much and I took an overdose. After this, it was quite hard living at home so I stayed at a mate's house. His mum was a carer and she gave me a safe place to stay until I got back on track and felt I could go home.
"I got another job in a warehouse but it was no better. I went back to the Job Centre and heard about Groundwork, a charity who runs the Progress programme. This is a 12-month course to help young people get a job, a place on a training course or go back into education. What I liked was that it is for people like me who need some extra one-to-one support.
"Everyone who joins gets a 'Progress Coach' who helps to identify the support they need. My Progress Coach is Bob from Groundwork West Midlands. Some people are not so good at looking after themselves and need help with shopping, cooking, and managing money. I needed help for my depression and anxiety and some different work experience. I was offered help with maths, English, a forklift-training course and support for job search. I did some work experience at Wembrook Community Centre in Nuneaton doing painting and decorating.
"I met Asha and Heather from Innovating Minds at a time when I was really down. I just could not do anything right but I had 15 one-to-one sessions with Heather and she showed me different relaxation techniques and taught me how to use breathing to control anxiety.
"I am feeling better these days. Before, I didn’t want to live but now things are opening up for me. I’ve just been for an interview for retail work, collecting deliveries from a trolley putting them on the shelves in the shop and helping the customers.
"I feel quite positive now. Even if I don’t get this job, I think I am coping better and there is always a chance of more work experience."
Heather Ellender, Assistant Psychologist at Innovating Minds, talks about working with Darren:
As part of Progress we offer coaching support and personalised activities to young people aged 15 – 24 years and help them improve their skills and confidence.
Darren had developed a pattern of negative thinking and could not find a way of resolving problems. I helped him to identify his negative thoughts and showed him how to turn his thinking round so he could work through situations step-by-step instead of him feeling overwhelmed.
We helped him to reduce his self-harming behaviours by creating a 'sensory kit', which consisted of blue tac and a stress ball which he could use as a distraction. He also identified his own self-care and relaxation techniques so he would listen to music, go on a walk when he started to feel stressed and overwhelmed by situations. Now Darren can monitor his negative thoughts for himself and has some strategies that help him control his worries and depression.
Find out more about how Progress can help you.