“A year ago, I was suicidal and at rock bottom. My life had gone from a successful career in the army to a hopeless future of nothing. I had lost my identity and purpose.”
“When I first heard about volunteering, I thought why bother as I need a job, but now I realise how volunteering can help. Volunteering has been amazing. I have made so many contacts and got so much experience and it’s led to a job. I just can’t believe how much I have got from it.”
Mike met Elaine from Step Together in January 2016 at Tedworth House, a recovery centre for wounded, injured and sick service personnel. He had become reclusive, rarely leaving the house, and had withdrawn from the support being offered to him. After getting to know Mike and his interests, Elaine discovered he had a passion for the outdoors.
Elaine arranged for Mike to volunteer at Ivy Lane School, helping with their Forest School sessions. Through this, Mike met staff from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, who offered him the opportunity to volunteer with their Education and Wellbeing team, delivering outdoor activities for vulnerable and marginalised young people. Mike loved both roles and was soon signing himself up for a number of related courses.
Towards the end of last year, Mike was officially discharged from service on medical grounds. Now a fully qualified bush craft instructor, Mike has started paid employment using these skills and is also starting his own bush craft school, hoping to soon be in a position to offer volunteering opportunities for others to join him.
“Although this was a distant pipedream whilst I still served, I never thought I would actually be in this position. I would like to thank Step Together and in particular Elaine, for all the help and support I received whilst going through this transition.”
Mike has regained his confidence. He has given a number of presentations at Tedworth House about his personal journey and the positive impact volunteering can have. Something he would never have been able to do a year ago.
Photo credit: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust