Damien, age 35 has lived in the Bideford Bay area for almost thirty years. Since the age of 19 Damien has been a care worker, a job he enjoyed for ten years. Life for Damien dramatically changed however, when seven years ago he was knocked off his motorbike while commuting between two clients.
Damien ignored the pain in his knee from that incident for around a year, until it got the point when he was no longer able to put his weight on his right leg. Things just got gradually worse.
“For roughly three years after the accident I felt sorry for myself, gradually withdrawing from the world. Then in 2018 I started volunteering for the RSPCA at a local shop. A year later, the PAT tester (portable appliance test) left, and I found a course to qualify as a PAT tester. I’ve done the testing for that shop ever since and in that time, only ever had one item returned!” explained Damien.
In late 2020, during the second lockdown, Damien lost his Personal Independence Payment (PIP) allowance. This is extra money to help people with everyday life if they have an illness, disability, or mental health condition. You can get it on top of Employment and Support Allowance or other benefits.
Damien’s work coach suggested he got in touch with Pluss. He had received support from them several years ago when he was learning how to adapt to his (then) new situation.
Damien recalled: “When I explained my circumstances, and they found out about my PAT qualification, they became rather excited and referred me to the Positive People programme and I met Jacqui for the first time.
“Over the four months of our wonderful and fun association, Jacqui took me so far out of my comfort zone I couldn’t touch bottom with a long stick! She guided me through the process of setting up my own business so gently and so skilfully that I didn’t realise I had written an entire business plan until I had to put it all together!
“Jacqui supported me in researching competitors, customers, insurers and a bookkeeper along with everything else I needed to know.
“She then introduced me to the man that would guide me through the digital marketing side, James Davey – I’ll get to him in a moment.
“Without Jacqui, none of this would have been possible. Without her guidance I would’ve had no idea how to set up my own business, let alone get to the point where I could begin trading as Omen Pat Testing.
“As for James at Cosmic. In two months, James showed me the process of setting up a website, how to use social media to my advantage and gave me the skills to manage all of this independently. I now have my own website; I post regular updates and articles to inform people and have increased my knowledge base immeasurably.
Without Jacqui, none of this would have been possible. Without her guidance I would’ve had no idea how to set up my own business, let alone get to the point where I could begin trading as Omen Pat Testing.
“Without this program, I would be just another statistic, sitting at home with no place in the world. Now, I’m self-employed, earning money doing something that I enjoy. It will be in my mind always that Omen PAT Testing, exists because of Positive People.”
When asked about the challenges he faced along the way and how Positive People helped, this is what Damien had to say:
“I had no idea whatsoever on setting up online resources or a business. I’ve had to learn a lot in a short space of time and fight against my own mental issues while doing so.
“I suffer from a condition called borderline personality disorder – a condition that affects how you think, feel and interact with other people. It can be like having 50 people all talking at once inside your head and most of them are questioning every decision you make.
“It helped having Jacqui to talk to and lay out the doubts I experienced. It was just about the only thing that allowed me to get to this point.”
Has Positive People made much difference to your everyday life?
“I’m happier, more confident and I feel mentally stronger. That has had a direct effect on my home life. When I wasn’t working, there was always a tension inside me that my children could sense. Working has always been a large part of my self-worth. Since I began this programme, I’ve relaxed, my children have relaxed, and things are much smoother at home.”
In terms of development, Damien is already looking to the future: “I intend to develop my business, establish myself as trusted and professional and to take more courses to expand my abilities further in the electrical market.
“I hope that this program will never end. Helping disabled people to find a way to work is nothing but good. If this program ends, that’s not a tragedy, it’s a crime!”
You can more about Damien’s new business at www.omenpat.com
Visit https://pluss.org.uk/positive-people/ if you would like to know more about the Positive People programme or call 0800 334 5525 for a friendly, confidential chat.