By late 2020, Jack had graduated university with a degree in sports education and was planning on doing his postgraduate certification in education with the intention of becoming a teacher, he was feeling positive about the future. Then a resurgent COVID forced the country back into lockdown and an already difficult situation was made even harder when his Nana passed away from lung cancer.

“She was the glue of the family, and her passing led to a massive family feud over all sorts,” says Jack. “It led to the whole family going their separate ways and splitting off, and no one contacting each other.

“I personally didn’t deal with the loss immediately. I started working a month later without really taking much time to really digest anything. It caused my depression to worsen, to an unbearable point. My anxiety was very poor. I was throwing up in the parking lot when I was going to work.

“I did try to power through it, but eventually I left my job and I essentially got stuck in a pit, where I would almost refuse to get out of it because I hadn’t really dealt with anything.”

As Jack struggled with his mental health, his relationship with his mum began to break down. He’d avoid going downstairs, he wouldn’t eat, and when their conflict escalated, he’d spend the night at a mate’s house.

It got to the point where they both agreed that it wasn’t best to continue living together. For Jack, who was 23 at the time, that meant finding a new place to live. He went to the council seeking emergency accommodation, who recommended contacting Depaul UK.

Jack was given a place in our supported accommodation, and after two months of settling in, he was referred to the Steps to Success programme, which supports our young people to reach their education and career goals.

At the time, Jack was still not feeling very well, but he found Steps to Success to be a very good coping mechanism. As well as the education, training, and employment advice he received,  he was also able to talk about his worries in a safe and supportive environment. He attended wellness workshops and was provided with individual therapy sessions, which gave him the opportunity to work through the issues troubling him.

As his health improved, Jack began to think about work again and what that might look like. He wasn’t sure he wanted to continue with sports coaching, but he knew that he wanted to use the skills he’d learned at university to help others.

“Steps to Success has been absolutely massive in terms of building up my confidence,” says Jack. “We kind of sat down on day one and said let’s see what your hobbies are, what you want to do, what would fit your profile. A lot of things came up. I wanted to do something where I was helping people, and so I was set up in a voluntary place , where I helped set up a mentoring programme, for which I’m eternally grateful.”

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