Loneliness Awareness Week
CO is a 32 yr old male who was referred to us by one of our partner organisations. CO has a history of offending and has spent some time in prison. CO has mental health challenges and as a result qualifies for PIP payments.
Due to the death of his mother whilst still a young man he is estranged from his family and lost his family home following his mother’s death. He has a very limited work-life history having been unemployed for the last ten years and his work experience was in the unskilled, short term labour market.
Over the last ten years CO’s life has followed a cycle of offending followed by homelessness followed by offending……..
CO was introduced to us 10 months ago as a beneficiary of a project we were working with. At that time he was just out of prison and with the help of our partner project had managed to secure a tenancy and moved out of a hostel. The downside to this was that living on his own increased his isolation and the anxiety of managing his own tenancy coupled with the isolation adversely affected his mental health.
He was looking for a positive use of his time as his isolation and anxiety was pulling him towards extensive misuse of alcohol and he remarked to his project worker that he would like to help our project.
So after an introduction and informal chat we arranged for CO to have a trial with the project and this followed on with him joining the project and completing induction and training.
He works in the Café area, both in front of house and in the kitchen area. This perfectly suits his situation as he says “ When I am feeling UP I like working in the Café and chatting to customers, but on down days I know I can hide away in the kitchen, but still be around people and get out of the house and nearly always feel better by the end of my shift”.
CO recognises that full time employment is not a short-term goal. He has found that volunteering has brought him structure, helped influence his decisions positively, helped develop his confidence and increased his social network all making him feel more optimistic for the future.
Through volunteering he feels challenged and supported in equal measure and he now understands the positive role challenge can have in development.
CO feels positive about volunteering due to the more supportive environment and the fact that you are allowed to make a mistake and come back and start again and he sees volunteering as being his main activity for the foreseeable future.
From our perspective, we feel we have learned a valuable lesson in that if our introduction to CO had been through an application form, he may not have made the cut but being introduced to him personally and working alongside him has shown us that he is someone we benefit from having as part of our team.