The light at the end of the tunnel

Ian visited us recently, to tell us how he’s doing in his new job, and how far he’s come since he first visited Back on Track in early 2107.

“I’d been doing well – good job, well paid, well, probably by most people’s standards. But then a family member got ill, and things started getting difficult. Over time it took a toll on me, and then got worse, until I ended up losing my job, feeling depressed and being completely isolated.

I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety when I found out about Back on Track. I was scared to walk into the centre, and coming to Manchester was difficult anyway cos it was so busy it was difficult for me to cope with. But I forced myself to do it.

Starting as a student was hard. I was quiet. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.  But then I realised that everyone was in the same boat, maybe not in terms of situation, but most were dealing with similar issues. That helped me to relax and start to learn. I did the ‘Out and About’ sessions, then the basic computing and well being courses. I learned about the different support available for anxiety, when previously it seemed like antidepressants were the only thing on offer. Plus, there was no set timetable, everything I did was done at the pace that I chose. Before I knew it I was helping others in the class who were struggling.

I did more classes during the 2nd term and by the end of it I was doing job searches. The volunteer coordinator said she’d noticed a change in me, encouraged me with the job searches and asked me if I’d considered volunteering. I didn’t think twice. I started in the cafe. It was scary working with money – it’s a big responsibilty! But I got loads of help from the other staff and volunteers, and I was so pleased that people were showing trust in me. Then I started doing stock control and then when someone was off one day I was in charge. It might sound like tiny steps but to me it was giant leaps! But I determined to repay the trust that people were showing me.

Then one day one of the staff took me down to a job fair at central library and I got offered a start with a local agency, working two days a week supplying supermarkets with stock. That was six months ago. I’m still there, alright I’m still on the agency books but now I’m doing 5 days a week. It’s hard work but I’m much fitter and a lot happier. My managers are advising me apply for a full time post as soon as one comes up.

I look back now and I don’t recognise the person I was back then. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, but it was like a pin prick in the distance. Thankfully, after starting at Back on Track it was like golf ball size, and it got bigger with each step I took. I’m stood right in front of the exit now, and I feel like if I can get a full time post I’ll be stepping out into the bright sunshine.”

What else can I say but good luck Ian, and congratulations for everything you’ve achieved so far!