Matthew’s story: “I take pride in what I do now”

His self-confidence had broken down, but we helped him rebuild it.

When we started working with Matthew, he’d been out of work for several years after experiencing a breakdown.

He experienced dissociation and memory loss, and his self-esteem completely deteriorated. “I couldn’t leave the house without a hoodie and headphones on,” he says. “I was in constant fear.” At times he felt suicidal. “I thought, ‘this is it’. I thought I’d never work again.”

He wanted to try to rebuild his life, and a friend suggested he look for support in the local area. That’s when he found our website. When he contacted us, we put him in touch with Porchlight worker Paul.

Paul works in our Aspirations service, which aims to reach people who are unemployed and geographically or socially isolated. Our workers help people feel less lonely and isolated, improve their opportunities, and raise their self-esteem.

“We arranged a meeting, and in the days leading up to it, I was filled with anxiety. I felt sick with nerves.”

But Paul immediately put Matthew at ease. He listened to his story, and they arranged to meet again a week later. He was much less anxious this time and opened up to Paul about his interests. Paul encouraged him to do more of what he enjoyed to help improve his self-confidence.

Matthew told Paul he was interested in history, so Paul suggested he try volunteering at a local castle. He started by doing a couple of shifts a week talking to the visitors. He found he enjoyed it and has gradually increased his hours.

I get to work in an environment where I feel safe and get used to being in a workplace again. I take pride in what I do now.

He particularly likes working with visiting schools and says speaking in front of groups has helped him get his confidence back. “People say I’m like my old self again,” he says. “I’ve gone from keeping to myself and not being able to make eye contact to having the courage to approach strangers and talk to them.”

We also helped Matthew access counselling to help with his self-esteem issues.

“I’m so grateful I met Paul. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I’d be volunteering. I don’t think I’d even have the confidence to tell my story.”

“Although I’m not 100% better, I’m slowly getting there.”

He’s now considering applying for a job with English Heritage so he can use the skills and knowledge he’s gained volunteering at the castle to get back into paid work.

“It’s been a long, long journey. But I’ve had some really great help from Porchlight. You gave me the confidence I needed.”