The summer of 2014 was a tough one, but it was one that changed my life.
I always hated the summer holidays. I’m the kind of person who likes a routine, so when summer came I always struggled. This summer holiday was particularly tough as I was deeply struggling with my mental health at the time.
I had just completed my first year of 6th form. However, I hadn’t really as I had deliberately failed my exams as I couldn’t deal with the pressure, and I had just floated in and out of classrooms the whole year. This was all due to a massive decline in my mental health. However, at least a school I knew I could be safe. I was dreading being left alone during the summer with nothing to do. But the summer had to come at some point.
So it did.
During the first couple of weeks I got myself into bad habits and self-destructive behaviours. But one day I was scrolling through facebook and saw a friends post. There were pictures of him having a great time and enjoying himself. I was curious as to what he was doing. Then found out. He had gone away on the NCS programme.
So I did some research and signed up for the programme. I don’t know what came over me to do that but I’m glad it did. As it was nearing the end of the summer I wasn’t expecting to hear from them. However, two days later I got a phone call asking if I wanted to go on programme… that started in a two days time!
I said yes. Then everything changed.
I rung up my mum and she helped me get stuff together for the residential. I rushed around for a couple of days and got everything together and then before I knew it I was on the coach to the middle of wales.
I didn’t know anyone before I go there, but by the evening it was like we’d known each other for ages. After three days of being there I turned round to a member of staff and said “I want to come back, I’m going to work for you”.
I went home that weekend and didn’t stop talking to grandparents about my week, then it started again on Monday in a different place for our second residential. It was amazing.
I had my rough days whilst being residential, my mental health problems did cause my to have moments of self-doubt and tears, however, I came out of the residential programme a new person.
Once I had finished the programme and graduated, I went back as a volunteer in the autumn programme. And then cam back in the spring as a paid team leader, and have done every programme since.
Even as a member of staff I still feel myself growing and encountering new challenges each time, whether these are personal or challenges with young people, they have all helped me grow.
From this programme I have gone on to work with the cabinet office, BBC radio, and the press. I have also become a volunteer for different charities. Everything I do now is thanks to the NCS programme.
In summer 2014 I was in a very low place, NCS saved my life, and gave me a new one.