My journey began with Inspiring Change Manchester in September 2014.
I’d tried volunteering at numerous organisations but knew I was searching for somewhere my experience could be used to help others. So when I heard of ICM it fit all the criteria I was looking for as it involved being part of a team that worked around people with multiple and complex needs.
I became a member of the ICM Core Group which felt good as I was involved in the decision making for the programme. I also got involved in strategic meetings, going to Glasgow to visit a Housing First project, and travelling to Stoke and Liverpool to be a part of the Experts by Experience National Citizens Group which is held quarterly to bring together representatives from Fulfilling Lives projects around the UK to see how they are developing and talk about co-production!
I was also involved in being part of the set up with M-Think – a shared database which enables people with multiple needs to access services in Manchester – and got to travel to London to see how their version operates down there. It helped me develop a lot of communication skills and built my confidence.
During this time, I got to know others that had been on the core group who were now a bit further ahead of me and I was inspired to become a Peer Mentor with ICM. Peer Mentoring enabled me to become part of a team that engaged with clients with complex needs. I spent 3 months doing this and it felt good to be able to share my experiences and help others that now face these difficulties; to be an advocate on some occasions for people that don’t engage well with services.
I really enjoyed my time Peer Mentoring, but I soon applied for a position as GROW Trainee with ICM in May 2015. I was so excited when I was told I had got this role as I had never been on a job interview before and felt a sense of achievement for the first time ever at being in paid employment.
I’m nearly 3 months into my Mental Health Engagement Trainee role on the ICM Mental Health Pathway with Self-help services now. I am starting to settle into my role which is teaching me so much. I’m also getting the opportunity to gain an NVQ along the way! But the main focus for me is trying to help clients get to that first step to being able to regain some control of their lives and helping them realise their potential – to see that it is possible to change your life around. I am living proof of that. And love being part of a great project here at ICM.