My past consists of a chaotic lifestyle where I was here, there and everywhere. I thought this was the way it will be for me through all my life, always on top of the game, in the driving seat and I felt I was untouchable. Looking back now, I realise I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom and have your world come crashing down before you realise there is another way to lead your life. That’s what happened to me when my daughter passed away at the age of 13.
Prior to this, my life was all about the game. I wasn’t really involved in heavy drug use as such, other than smoking cannabis, which I used pretty much everyday.
When my daughter fell poorly, I was by her side everyday in the hospital and saw all the hard work and support that was put into her care by the staff. They did everything they could to help her…but when your time is up, it’s up. This was probably the most difficult time of my life but also a big eye opener for me too.
From this moment I knew I wanted to be a different man. None of the things that seemed so important at the time mattered to me anymore. I wanted to have meaning in my life and give my help and support to the community in the same way I know my daughter was supported, and so I left the game and started looking at what I can do to help others. I heard about the Bridge Project volunteer programme and applied to be a volunteer.
I went on the training for the volunteer scheme where I got to know some of the other volunteers very well and this felt great. Everyone was very supportive and kind and this fuelled my desire to get the most out of this opportunity. I completed my diploma in Health and Social Care level 2 and 3. It gave me a great sense of achievement when I finished my diploma and gave me the realisation of how skills such as listening, empathising and offering support to someone can make such a great difference in someone’s life.
I began to volunteer at the bridge Project in the gym where I built a positive rapport with the clients. I had previous knowledge of health and nutrition and have a strong passion in this field and so I was very grateful for this opportunity. Not long after, I became an employee at the bridge gym as a fitness instructor and I’m also involved in the steroid clinic which runs at the Bridge Project once a week.
Being where I am today is such a rewarding and satisfying experience. I love waking up in the morning and feeling that I am able to make a difference in people’s lives. It has made me look at situations differently. The little things which I completely overlooked back in the day are now so significant and I am grateful for them for it is the little things that make big things happen.
I am continuously encouraging clients in the gym to maintain focus on their recovery and offering support to them. I encourage them to utilise the support from their workers and the service overall and I am very proud of the community that exists within the gym. Everyone is very kind, polite, thoughtful and respectful which keeps me positive and focused too.
My behaviour today reflects my learning from my experience and I know that my daughter would be very proud…which makes me proud of the man I am today.