"I am supporting my community"  

“Thanks to Step Forward Tees Valley and Jodie I have found my confidence and feel prepared for getting a job”      

Sue's story

"The job I was in for over 12 years became very challenging which contributed greatly in a physical and mental breakdown in 2012.  Since that very dark time I endured a constant emotional and traumatic environment which heightened the severe stress and anxiety I had to battle with on a daily basis, which affected my ability to cope with the hostile and unrealistic management targets and the job.  Eventually this led to my dismissal from the job I used to love so much.   


It was really hard - 2015 to 2017 was a terrible time. I had been through an industrial tribunal where I had to represent myself. I was very down and depressed.


I was told about Step Forward and one of the first courses I went on was a health and well-being course at Morton Park. Going got me out of the house – I started building routine, self-confidence and self-esteem.


I began to venture out back into the local community centre at Firthmoor and took on the nursery garden at the back of the building. It had been severely neglected and had no-one to maintain or grow produce in it, I thought I’d give it a go and took it from there.


I told the wellbeing group what I was doing and participants started coming along too – it grew over the summer and become quite big! We started taking little projects on around Firthmoor.


The gardening is great for us all. We’re out in the fresh air, getting exercise, getting out. We’re working together as a team. It’s been great for my self-esteem. I have an adult learners teaching certificate and used to teach IT within my local community so this project was a great start to get myself involved with like-minded people. They learned new skills from the gardening experience and built up their self-esteem and confidence over the months. I love the feeling of giving something back and having an educational role.


I feel like I’m ready to tackle the next step. I have taken on other courses such as retail, health and safety, hygiene. I’m planning on continuing working in the community as I want to be part of making our town a great place to live.


I had worked hard since 1995/6, striving to build up a strong and confident personality, but over the past 10 years or so this has been chipped away at and eventually destroyed. I had lost the battle. I’m having to rebuild myself both inside and out, it is hard for me as I am a very trusting person and always believe that everyone is like-minded which can be disappointing. This is something Step Forward has helped me with tremendously. 


I’m motivated to continue, which for anyone with mental health issues is a constant battle to maintain. I want to help employers recognise how important it is to protect people’s mental health and that things need to change. I plan to write, visit and campaign businesses within Darlington to consider adopting the Time to Change pledge."