Have a look at some of the amazing art and crafts made in Simon's sessions

Simon's Story

My name is Simon, I am 25 years old and I live in Hartlepool. I first heard about Step Forward Tees Valley when I came across an advert in my local newspaper. I’d been struggling to find work due to long term health issues following a diagnosis of cancer a few years ago.


Once I was in remission I felt as if I was ready to move on with my life but my friends all started working or moving away and I felt as though life was leaving me behind. Due to my health conditions I found it difficult to leave the house and I lost all confidence which lead to me struggling to meet new people and socialise.


I called Step Forward Tees Valley and they made me an appointment with a navigator called Richard. When I met with Richard he quickly put me at ease. We worked through the issues I was facing together, including sorting my benefits, which was causing me a lot of stress.


Richard told me about a local charity called PINS (Parents in need of Support) based in Hartlepool. They support families who are affected by their child’s drug/alcohol misuse by offering practical and emotional advice and training. Richard heard they were looking for a volunteer to run their therapeutic art sessions and thought of me. I have a degree in Prop Design and had always loved arts and crafts.


After meeting with the manager I was successful and secured the position of Volunteer Therapeutic Artist/Art Technician I have now been volunteering at PINS for around a year and a half and support service users 3 days a week to achieve their artistic goals through; sculpting, painting, knitting and wirework. Volunteering at PINS has reinforced my passion for arts and crafts and, more importantly given me a sense of purpose. It’s nice to be able to give something back and even better to see the impact you are having on people’s lives. I intend to continue volunteering for PINS after the Step Forward Tees Valley programme come to an end. 


Richard said “I am really pleased to have met Simon and to have had the opportunity to be part of his journey. The first day I met with Simon he came across as uncertain and in need of a purpose and some direction. I am glad to say Simon has now found his purpose and is enjoying supporting vulnerable clients at his art group and giving them a safe and comforting environment away from the stress and pressure of their everyday life. By introducing Simon to a community based organisation it has also benefited Step Forward Tees Valley participants who are also able to attend his workshop along with members of the public. Clients attending the group have shown an impressive growth in confidence as well as reducing isolation which in turn has also helped towards improving their mental health problems.”