Aaron’s story: “My whole life changed overnight”

With the support of our workers, he’s finally where he wants to be

Aaron’s early life wasn’t easy. He experienced abuse, struggled to make friends, and got into fights. He was excluded from school at a young age.

He went on to develop severe mental health problems and started self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, which led him to a vicious cycle of addiction. He began self-harming and was hospitalised several times.

“I had no guidance,” he says, “I was lost, totally lost.”

Eventually Aaron’s struggles came to a head, and he spent two years in prison. While there, he took part in a scheme helping vulnerable inmates.

After his release, he wanted to make sure he stayed away from negative influences and needed something to focus on. His probation officer put him in touch with Porchlight.

Our Aspirations service aims to reach people who are geographically or socially isolated. Our coaches work with people to reduce loneliness and isolation, improve their opportunities, and help raise self-esteem.

Aaron was referred to Aspirations worker Paul. “Things just worked with Paul. He understood how I felt, and I trusted him. We got on.”

To help give him some structure, Paul sourced Aaron a laptop and a gym membership. “I’d never been a gym goer but always liked football, so I gave it a try.”

He attended the gym regularly for a few months. The exercise had a positive impact on his mental and physical health, but it didn’t give him the opportunity to connect with people.

Paul suggested Aaron attend one of our Porchlight Open Door meetups. These are places the people we support can go to socialise, learn new skills, and get advice. We run them so people who have experienced homelessness or struggle with their mental health don't feel cut off from others.

“From day one, I loved it” Aaron says. “When I walked in, I was nervous. But it just felt warm and comfortable. There were other people there like me.”

He started taking part in fitness sessions at the meetups, which gave him the opportunity to exercise and connect with others at the same time. Suddenly everything fell into place.

It just changed my whole life, literally overnight. It helped me come into my own.

Now Aaron regularly leads the fitness sessions and has become part of the team. People have even started coming to him for advice or a chat; “I love helping people, just knowing you’ve put a smile on someone’s face.” He hopes to move into a support role within Porchlight that will allow him to use his skills and experience to support people further.

“I’ve wanted a normal life since I was a kid. This is the first time in my whole life I’ve felt normal. I don’t know where I’d be without Porchlight’s help.”