Michael’s Progress Route!

Meet Michael. He had been unemployed for over 2 years, but now is back in the workplace, with enhanced self-confidence and having overcome his social anxiety; he says that is thanks to the Progress Routes programme we delivered in partnership with Community Ventures Ltd, based in Thorntree, Middlesbrough.

Michael says: “I got a lot from the programme- like self-assurance. I opened up as a person- I was in my shell, but being in the group and engaging with the activities really gave me some self-confidence- without feeling anxious. It was a  huge step forward in conquering my social anxiety”.

The programme, which was funded by Routes to Work, Middlesbrough, ended in December. Since then, Michael has gained employment as a Process Operator through an agency, with a company who makes nutritional products in Middlesbrough. He’s had some really positive feedback from Team Leaders, putting his success down to the programme, which followed the Forest School approach- explaining “one of the main things was becoming more confident in being part of a team, instead of just sitting back and being a passenger in what was going on”.

This is a big deal for Michael, who was isolated for so long, and had lost trust in many people; but getting out, being active, achieving the John Muir Award and meeting the challenges of sustaining oneself in woodland during Autumn. Of note, Michael is eating healthier and regularly exercising with the aim of improving himself, using a rowing machine he has bought to row 5 miles a day on his days off, as well as doing 100 press-ups, 100 pull-ups and 100 sit-ups- as well as riding 3.5 miles to work; all of this he puts down to the activities and motivation he experienced during the Rewilding sessions- as well as the budgeting, shopping and campfire cooking that was a key part of each day.

Since getting his first wage packet, Michael has treated his mum and dad to some shopping and presents- as well as saving to visit York for a weekend with a friend- somewhere he’s never been but is keen to go and explore.

The Progress Routes programme has also produced some positive outcomes for Michael’s peers, with others securing employment and volunteering roles, as well as moving on to job related training. Especially pleasing is the reported increase in the participants’ mental well-being- which increased by an average of 27% (using the WEMWBS survey) and 25% better general well-being according to the Office for National Statistics’ survey. Many of them have well-being that they scored in the 80 and 90 percentage bands- which is amazing! Including some that have 30% increases, and one whose general well-being doubled!

Following the success of the 6-week Routes Progress Programme, Rewilding Adventure and Community Ventures have secured funding from the European Social Fund to deliver a further in-depth 12-week version of the programme.

The programme supports TS3 long-term unemployed people and consists of, centre, community, and forestry activities. These activities promote physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing while developing confidence, personal empowerment, and strengths. Centre activities are held at Community Ventures, Thorntree in Middlesbrough, and forestry activities run from the Dunsdale Rewilding Adventure Centre.

If you’re interested in taking part in the programme, or you would like to refer a client onto the programme, please contact Rachel at Community Ventures on 01642 989254 or hello@communityventuresteesvalley.org

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