Mike was facing challenging circumstances that seemed insurmountable. A former offender, he had found himself in a cycle of substance misuse, homelessness and also struggling with mental health issues. Support from Step Together and a well-matched volunteering placement, has enabled Mike to regain his confidence and feel more positive about his future.

The first time I came across Step Together was when I was living in an alcohol rehab project in Manchester. In the two years previous I’d descended into a cycle of depression, alcohol abuse, hospitalisation and homelessness. I was really struggling to cope.

I’d been in the project around three months when Karen from Step Together came in to do a presentation about the service they provide. I was really struck with what she had to say about volunteering, so a couple of weeks later I made contact with her and we arranged to meet.

Looking back, I can see that I was trying to run before I could walk, and Karen realised this long before I did. She took her time, got to know me, explored options and we discussed choices. She didn’t push me into anything that I wasn’t ready for, but guided me into what was best for me.

I started volunteering at a dog’s home and it was just what I needed right then. My confidence had been shot to pieces and it was highly unlikely that I’d be getting any negative feedback from a dog!

Since those first small steps, I haven’t looked back. I have completed several courses and Karen even attended my graduation, despite her leg being in plaster at the time. I moved on to volunteering in the social care sector, working with the homeless and with others who were suffering with addiction problems. I started looking for work at the beginning of August, and in October, I was back in full time, paid employment. And I’ll be to moving into a social care job by the end of the year, once the pre-employment checks have been completed. I’ll be a support worker for young adults who have learning difficulties or autism. At interview they said that the experience I’d gained volunteering would be very useful.

Karen was absolutely delighted when she heard I was working, even more so when she heard about the support worker job. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and one that I didn’t think would be possible. I didn’t even know where to start, but Karen has been there, every step of the way, providing support and enthusiasm. With the help of Step Together, I not only have a map, but a torch, compass and some tough boots to complete my journey. Because this is only the beginning.

Categories: Impact
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