difference" I was homeless, sometimes staying with friends or family
and then spending some nights in a local park. My anxiety
levels were really high, my mental health wasn't in a good
place, and my mind was in a constant state of negativity. It
got so bad that I even tried to take my own life twice."
Just under a year ago, John was at rock-bottom and didn't
know where to turn for help.
However, support was soon there. He was referred to our
counselling and life-coaching service Ongo Talk. This is
when he started to have weekly meetings with Pete from our
Employment Support team.
John said: "I was so nervous before, but the whole team
made me feel settled and welcome there immediately. I felt
really comfortable and happy - everybody was so nice and
polite, and I could tell straight away how they just wanted
the very best for me."
He was quickly helped into supported housing, and he then
completed a number of mental health and employment
courses to improve his state of mind, and to enhance his
skills. John explained how this training was 'absolutely
He added: "The instructors were excellent, and they tailored
each course to make it suitable for us all. I would recommend
the training available there to anybody."
To add further good news, John has enrolled on a Business
Management degree with the support of the Building
Better Opportunities programme, available through our
The degree is part of John's aim to set up his own landscape
gardening company, which will use the help of volunteers
whilst also aiming to improve their mental health.
He said: "It all started when a friend asked me to look at their
garden, and I soon found that gardening really helped my
mental state. I've known people who have suffered with their
mental health and who aren't here today unfortunately.
"That's why I want to do this - the more people I can help
with their mental health and their work skills, the better.
Because I have been through dark times myself, I know what
they may be going through and can do everything I can to
John hopes to have his own business set up within the next
year, and has already began talking to a local enterprise
company about his idea.
A home, new skills, a degree to look forward to, and a clear
business plan in mind - all in less than a year.
John explained: "I can't begin to explain how much things
have changed for the better. I no longer have any thoughts of
suicide, I'm so much more confident and have peace of mind
now, and things couldn't be better.
"None of this would have been possible without Pete and his
team's help and support - I can't thank them all enough."
To find out more about the support available, visit
ongo.co.uk/employmentsupport or email
John with his young son