Paul was a teacher for a big part of his life. But when circumstances changed and he found himself unemployed, living alone and dealing with health issues, he struggled to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s until he was referred to Pluss for support through our Health Works for Cornwall project.
His change coach, Linda, met with Paul to help him understand his anxiety and begin a schedule to get back out enjoying life a little more each week as part of his plan to return to work.
Linda helped Paul to build back his confidence, recognise the patterns he had fallen into whilst out of work, and reflect upon what he wanted in order to change his own life.
She encouraged Paul to access a Pluss facilitated voluntary project within his community to become more active and connect with others, and with nature.
Together, a group of Pluss Health Works for Cornwall participants and coaches volunteer each week, under the supervision of the Truro City Park Rangers, to enhance an area of city woodland for the local community and we went along to join them one Tuesday afternoon in January to see what it all involved.
“It’s doing things that I haven’t done in a long time,” Paul told us as he was cutting down branches to weave into fencing, and spreading gravel and chippings to help with drainage of pathways.
It’s given me the support I need to get through my panic attacks and anxieties. There’s not the pressure that would be involved in a 9am-5pm job so it gives me an opportunity to do a little more each week and address some of the problems at my own pace
What would Paul be doing if he weren’t doing this?
“Well, I wouldn’t be getting out in the fresh air and socialising with other people,” he says.
“I would probably be stuck home in front of my computer doing job searches. The problem with that is there’s no interaction. On this project there’s the Park Rangers and the people from Pluss. We all just get stuck in.
“After a while you realise just what you’re achieving as opposed to putting up barriers and making excuses.”
Pluss’s Health Works for Cornwall supported Paul with wet weather gear like jackets and boots; “Which means there’s no reason for not doing it,” he says. “I’ve really benefited from that.”
The right path
“Before this, I was struggling to get back into society.
“Sitting at home on your own, you end up being very insular and this offers some of the basics, like talking to people and communicating, and shows the things that I can do rather than those I thought I couldn’t.”
How important does Paul think it has been to have his own personal change coach to help support and guide him on his journey back to work?
“The main advantage is they get to see you developing and are able to show you what’s available; they provide the complete package I need to try and get me back into employment.”
And Paul is quick to offer advice to anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation: “Just go along,” he says. “You’ll be surprised at what you find and the benefits that you achieve on a weekly basis.”
Paul is now hoping to find employment as a teaching assistant and we all wish him the best of luck.
He can also take pride in the work he has contributed at Coosebean which allows local people to enjoy the enchanting walks safely, without damaging the environment or getting quite so muddy along the way!
You can find out much more about Coosebean and the work done by the rangers and their teams by clicking on the related links below.
Change coach Linda and Health Works For Cornwall participant Paul head off on a shopping trip to find some wet-weather gear
It's all part of the plan to help Paul get out and connect with other people and with nature
Tuesday afternoon and Paul's new wet-weather gear is being put through its paces as he joins the other helping manage woodland at Coosebean
From making the paths less muddy to cutting down overhanging branches, there's plenty to be done
The first post gets hammered into place as the volunteers start to build a fence out of branches and twigs.
Paul starts collecting more 'tools of the trade' to help complete the fence
And just to make it interesting there's a video being made about their work. Cameraman Justin tries not to lose his footing as he follows the action.
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