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When I first met JF, he lacked confidence and belief in himself. His marriage had ended and he had returned to living with his parents, which was hard to begin with, but he was able to manage for a few years until he lost his cousin to suicide. They had been very close and as JF was the one to find his cousin it affected him deeply. He felt as if his life had come to a stand still and wasn't sure it would ever improve.

After talking with JF for a few weeks, we began building a connection based on our shared experiences growing up in similar environments and the struggles we had faced. Having that connection meant that JF felt able to open up more and he began to open up to the idea of using Thriving Survivors service to help him get back on track, after hearing how they had helped me and many others.

Due to the "man up" mentally of his upbringing, JF initially found it difficult to share his feelings and experiences with the other members of the Discovering Me group but soon realised that he was in a safe space with people he could trust who understood him. This allowed him to relieve the pressure of the feelings that had been building up inside for so long in a healthy and safe way, and helped build connections and friendships within the group. He was fully engaged with the group, encouraging others and was always the first to get involved with group activities.

After completing the Discovering Me group, JF has continued to grow during our Mentoring sessions, becoming more confident and trusting of other people. He is now able to be honest about his feelings with himself and others. He can better recognise negative thoughts and emotions before they become overwhelming and has learned he can ask for help from others.

JF is currently participating in the Mentor training programme and is looking forward to using his lived experience to help others. His empathy, enthusiasm and courage exhibited during the mentoring and group sessions have been invaluable to the other members of the group and show his promise as a future Thriving Survivors Mentor.

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