New Horizons offers a variety of services for people experiencing mental health issues to help integrate them back into the community by giving them the opportunity to experience positive social outlets and develop new skills. Two excellent ways of doing this are through volunteering and work.
New Horizons client David McBride shares his experience:
“I have been attending New Horizons for about eight months. I started going there after being confronted with some of my own mental health issues which resulted in me being out of work for over a year. After a traumatic experience at work, which ultimately resulted in me losing my job, I began to question the reasons behind my choice of career. This led to me questioning my own abilities, my confidence and how I defined myself as a person. As a result, I began to experience high levels of anxiety and depression.
“I was referred to New Horizons by my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) as part of my recovery and to develop better social skills. Coming here two days a week gave me purpose which led to an improvement in my confidence and overall well-being. Knowing that I would ultimately like to get back to work, I got in touch with Briana the New Horizon’s Employment Officer in Fermanagh. Although not quite ready at the time to begin work, I was interested in seeing what my options were.
“I have been working in social care for many years, but due to the demanding nature of this work, I felt it would be better for my mental health if I tried something different. I had recently completed a training qualification and felt that my skills were suited for this type of work.
“We started by working on my CV, so Briana and I could get a full understanding of skills and qualifications.
“I wasn’t really quite sure what direction I wanted to go so together we researched different options and discussed what each would require and whether I was ready to take it on. I found it helpful to go through this process as we were able to whittle down what I didn’t want or wasn’t quite ready for, making what I did want, much clearer.
“I realised that I wanted to facilitate training in small groups. Although my long term plan is to be a freelanced Social Care trainer, to get me started, it was better if I got some experience in facilitating training.
“Briana contacted Ciaran in the FRCI so we could meet with him to discuss what options may be available for work experience. Ciaran went through my recently updated CV and was able to see the potential, although I had no experience in a training role.
“He agreed to provide me with the opportunity to gain some experience as a volunteer Training Facilitator two mornings a week for ten weeks. I was delighted. Through the conversations between Briana, Ciaran and myself we were able to fit it into my schedule, which worked for the FRCI as well. It was good that Ciaran was aware of my mental health issues not only because I felt that I could go to him with any concerns, but we were also able to put together a level of work that met my capabilities at the time.
“After the work trail was over, Ciaran, Briana and myself met again to discuss how it went. I found it to be a very rewarding opportunity which increased my confidence and mental well-being. It was great that I had somewhere to go on those days and it provided me with a purpose and reason to get up in the morning. I even discovered skills I didn’t know I had. The positive feedback from Ciaran and the staff really helped me along the way.
“The icing on the cake was when Ciaran said an opening had become available as an IT tutor and he would be happy if I stepped in. I graciously accepted as the part time hours and the job content really suited me and had definitely contributed to my recovery.
“I have now been working in the FRCI for six weeks and I am still enjoying the work and learning new skills each day. In fact I have been able to gain further qualifications as the FRCI have been putting me through the Advanced ECDL course.
“I am very grateful for the support from both Briana and Ciaran. The support provided from Briana and AMH enabled me to be able to take that first step. She was there supporting me throughout the whole process, making sure I was managing okay and helping to negotiate and tricky decisions.”
David completed his level 1 and 2 ECDL in Action Mental Health New Horizons.
New Horizons is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.