Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Nicky lives in Middlesbrough and has been working with Step Forward Tees Valley since March 2021. As well as support from Lisa her Navigator, Nicky is working with Liz Godfrey from Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP), Ruth from Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency (MVDA) and Susan from Changing Lives.
Due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Liz supported Nicky via online group Zoom sessions entitled ‘Healthy Me'. The aim was to improve her overall health and wellbeing and increase her confidence. The small and friendly group sessions covered goal setting, relaxation, mindfulness and healthy eating. PCP also offered Nicky the chance to join a small wellbeing social Zoom group, which aimed to reduce loneliness and connect participants who were isolated.
Ruth (MVDA) supported Nicky to find a volunteer placement that complimented her degree and that would give her the experience she needs when applying for paid employment in the humanitarian sector.
Susan (Changing Lives) supported Nicky with the ‘Stepping Stones’ course aimed
at increasing self awareness and self development and moving Nicky closer to being ready to look for work.
This partnership approach has enabled Nicky to move towards her ultimate goal of regaining her self belief and confidence, overcoming her mental health problems and gaining employment.
Nicky kindly shared her story of her remarkable journey in her own words.
Nicky said: "Last year I was left devastated by the sudden loss of my oldest son, and I was unable to cope with life. I could not see a way forward or how I would be able to live properly again, I just couldn't function anymore. I had depression and anxiety and COVID-19 made it easier for me to escape the world and lock myself away.
"After receiving counselling I realised that I had to move forward and get control back of my life, I just didn't know how to do it. This is when I was introduced to Step Forward and Lisa suggested that I attended the Healthy Me taster sessions with Liz, I completed the four sessions on Zoom, which surprised me so much because it was group sessions. I think that because it was relaxed and there was no pressure it made me feel safe.
"I gained so much from such a short time and the breathing exercises I use a lot now and it works to help combat my anxiety. Following on from these sessions Liz suggested the social group. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about it, however I am so glad that I attended them.
"Talking to new people in a safe environment was exactly what I needed to build my independence back up. When I first started working with this project I would do anything not to go outside, even watering my milk down so I didn't have to go to the corner shop. However two weeks ago I volunteered with a gardening project for Roseberry Park.
"I sat on a bus for the first time in over a year and enjoyed watching people instead of looking at the floor just wanting to be home. I will start volunteering with refugees in a couple of week time. The next step for me is to apply for jobs in the humanitarian sector the reason I went to university and gained my degree in history.
"Before last year I had a full life, with my children, university and friends and I had lost it. So to me getting on a bus and feeling happy and positive means so much, it means that I can start to live again.
"This project and the wonderful people that I have had the privilege to meet and work with have helped me to start to reclaim my life, and for that thank you will never be enough."
Keep up to date with Step Forward Tees Valley on their website at www.sfteesvalley.co.uk