“My confidence is rebuilt" #iamstepforward 

Martin's story

"I started my journey with Step Forward Tees Valley in November 2017 with my navigator Emma. The area I wanted to improve was my confidence. I suffered with anxiety, stress and depression and this meant I was struggling with direction and social interaction. I also needed support in being able to interact with multiple people.

I have experienced long term health problems which left me confused and unsure which direction to head in regard to employment, training and education.

My initial activity with Step Forward Tees Valley was a health and wellbeing course. The course covered confidence building and practical thinking and really empowered me as I was able to meet a range of people experiencing similar issues.

I found this course very beneficial and it was a brilliant platform to begin my journey to helping other people, rather than thinking about my own problems.

Next, Emma helped me with a benefit application (with support from Citizens Advice), as well as helping me get Employment and Support Allowance.  She was also there to support me through a medical appointment. I found all of this to be extremely helpful and supportive – it reduced my stress levels which were high because I was unsure where I stood financially.

With the support and direction of Step Forward, I have gained knowledge of office work and procedures and policies – I have achieved qualifications in business administration level 2, maths and English functional level 1, information technology level 2, GDPR and prevent and safeguarding. Gaining these qualifications has improved my confidence a considerable amount.

We also looked into different volunteering options. An area we looked into was the NHS as I would like to give something back as they have done a lot for me. Due to health problems this was not suitable, and I now volunteer at Adult Education doing administration, which I really enjoy and suits my schedule. I am also now looking into volunteering at Citizens’ Advice as I am thankful for the support they have offered.

Socially, I built up the courage and attended a walking group – this is a large group of people but I am happy I was able to take part. I am now looking to go back into my passion of photography and these walks have helped that.

I am grateful for the support Step Forward Tees Valley has kindly offered me, I feel I wouldn’t be able to have achieved what I have done without that support from Emma and the team.  And who knows maybe one day I might be volunteering for Step Forward Tees Valley!"