I joined the Youth Connect 5 course in the second week, back in January this year. My cousin had brought me along after completing the 13 weeks Strengthening Families programme with Crea8ing Careers. I was very anxious and reluctant to engage and was not sure that I would actually stay. I felt very uncomfortable being there initially. I had been at a stage where I simply was not getting up or doing anything and lying in bed for days. I was very anxious; however, I did return to the next session and over the coming weeks, how I felt, and my attitude changed completely.
By the end of the first five-week course, I was feeling more confident in how to support my daughter and other children with their emotional well-being and had learned gained some knowledge in applying positive strategies. I was able to talk to the children in a better way and remember laughing and saying, “children have feelings, who knew?” I really had never taken their feelings into consideration. Although I was still feeling quite low, I could already feel a change for the better and asked to complete the course for a second time, as I felt that I would get more out of it doing it again. My mood and confidence continued to increase when I did it again.
I have given up using cannabis and started working on reducing how much I was drinking. I kept trying to re-establish a more meaningful relationship with my son and managed much better with his rudeness and aggressive tone when we spoke on the phone. I just kept remembering what we had learned about stress responses on the course. My relationship with my youngest daughter has also improved. She has learning difficulties which can make things quite hard at times but now I am able to deal with her more calmly. Everyone kept saying how much change they could see in me and I really felt like I was making progress, so registered to join the 13 weeks Strengthening Families course which was starting a few weeks later. I was interested in volunteering but was worried about “letting people down”. I was using the WhatsApp group to share my ups and downs and was really surprised at getting a response from others even late at night when I felt low. I really didn’t think for a minute anyone would answer and when they did, I started to feel part of a worldwide group after feeling so isolated for so long, despite my friends and family. I still use the group on an almost daily basis.
When I started the SFSC course, I really was feeling so much better and more positive. I told all the others that hadn’t done the Youth Connect 5 course how much I had got out of it. I told them about having given up drugs, and that my son had now even said he would try and do the same, and he has and is managing to hold down a job now too. We really hadn’t got on for years, but he came and spent a couple of hours, had a cup of tea and a really good chat. It felt so good to be able to do that for the first time in years.
As the SFSC course went on I decided to get involved in volunteering as I wanted something worthwhile to do and to help Crea8ing Careers, as I had got so much from their support. I keep challenging myself with new situations and sometimes feel surprised at what I do now compared to before. I still use the group chat as support, but I also try and offer support to some of the others that are having a hard time too. It was a genuine surprise to be voted joint Inspirational Parent by others in the group at the end of the course. I’m still off the drugs and significantly reduced how much I drink; I have managed to go several weeks without drinking, although I still have the occasional night now and then.
I never really knew any black or Muslim people before, and I wasn’t racist but would not have hung out or anything like that. However, now I know a few black people from the course and outside but realised that I was in some way worried or thought they were so different but really, they are just like the rest of us. I know that sounds silly, but I would never have imagined going to visit and socialise with someone that was Muslim and wears a head scarf and all that, but the Muslim lady on the course has become a friend as well as getting to know the course leaders. I am really pleased that I have got to know them and now definitely feel more open to people from other cultures and backgrounds.
I don’t feel so alone, and I am definitely more confident about myself and things in general. I’ve started losing weight and going out walking with my daughter and dog more regularly. I want to do more volunteering with Crea8ing Careers on the courses as I know how I felt when I first started and feel that I may be able to make others feel welcome and share my experience of getting so much out of it, helping them feel less anxious. They have done my Safeguarding training with me and I got my certificate. I am just waiting for my DBS and looking forward to helping out when the courses start again after the summer.
I have registered to do another course on Adverse Childhood Experiences in September 2019 and just wish I had had the knowledge and strategies that I know now, when my children were younger. I agreed to do this case study, as I want other people to know how much I got from the courses with Crea8ing Careers and how much of a difference it has made to me.