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10

A life-changing

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

fantastic'.

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

Communities team.

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

support them."

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

employmentsupport@ongo.co.uk

John with his young son

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