Ian shares his experience of GL11 at our AGM

On Wednesday 2nd October 2019 GL11 held its annual AGM.  Our Chair Annika Howard presented the annual report covering the previous years activities and annual accounts to a varied group of stakeholders consisting of staff, trustees, funders, participants and volunteers.  To make the AGM more engaging we asked some of our participants if they would be willing to share their stories and journeys.  We are delighted that Ian, one of our Garden Volunteers was happy to speak.  This is his story:

“Twelve months ago, I was in a bad place. I felt too ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it. I had been drinking too much and it was affecting my work and personal life.  My line manager asked me if I was OK, I remember putting my head in my hands, I did not know what was wrong with me……  He referred me to Occupational Health who then refereed me to a GP. I was told I had severe depression and anxiety and was signed off work.

The GP told me I had 3 options: the first do nothing, the second was to take anti-depressants and the third was to go and have counselling.  I wanted to talk and looked into Listening Post and Let’s Talk but there were either fees or a long waiting list.  I had no confidence, self esteem or respect.

I didn’t know where to turn…. I was ready to give up.  A colleague at work suggested I try GL11, so I decided to pop in.  I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as I walked into reception, I knew this place was going to help me.  I was welcomed and supported. I was introduced to Sara, a Counsellor who said she could see me.  I began 121-hour sessions of counselling.  It was during these sessions that I gained the confidence to be able to talk openly and freely and it helped me immensely. I was not judged, and I felt comfortable coming in to have a cup of tea or read a book or just to chat.

As I started to come more often, I got introduced to Sandra, GL11’s Volunteer Co-ordinator.  She suggested me becoming a volunteer at GL11 and I decided to give it a go and help Miriam who runs the Gardening Club.  Helping in the gardens is not work, it’s a pleasure and a privilege.  GL11 provided a listening ear for me when I was at my darkest time so me volunteering is my way of giving something back to GL11.

I have found something here at GL11, it can’t be bottled, and it does not have a label, but I can honestly say that I am not the person who walked in here 12 months ago.  Looking back, I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time and it was coming here and being able to talk that has helped me so much.

I no longer drink, I’ve returned to work, I now run every day.  Before coming to GL11 I did not like myself, so how do you expect someone to like you if you don’t like yourself?  Having the opportunity to talk freely here at GL11 has been my saving grace.  I am now full of hope and ambition!”