Matthew, 19, joined the Face Forward programme last summer.
Matthew has been suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) for several years. This condition makes him feel persistently tired, no matter how many hours he rests, and it makes him suffer muscular pain and headaches very often. It also affects his ability to focus and complete tasks such as chores and assignments. Overall, Matthew found it difficult to commit to education or employment, which ultimately has affected his motivation and confidence.
On his first one-to-one session with his Face Forward adviser, Matthew said: “I tried to go to college, but couldn’t do it with my CFS. 12-hours day, three days a week…it was too much. I felt depressed and that it was more difficult to manage my condition whilst I wasn’t doing anything. Work wasn’t going to happen soon or easily for me.”
After a few sessions with his adviser and a Face Forward apprentice his passion for animals soon became apparent. He told us how he had previously volunteered in farms in the local area and how much he enjoyed it.
The Face Forward team looked into volunteer placements locally where Matthew could feel supported, progress onto higher intensity roles and where his health condition would be manageable.
The team took Matthew to Margaret Green Animal Rescue, a rescue centre in Wareham that takes in pets and field animals that have become homeless or that have been neglected, mistreated or abandoned. Matthew loved it, so together we planned that he’d start with low-intensity tasks and move up to more physically demanding tasks around the farm.
Matthew has now been seven weeks attending Margaret Green weekly with peer support from the Face Forward apprentices. He’s been spending an hour a week in the cattery and soon he’ll be getting involved in tasks that require more physical effort.
Matthew says: “I feel well appreciated at Margaret Green. Life seems to be brightening up. Volunteering is good because you’re making a difference and gaining experience at the same time. Volunteering is definitely worth it.”
Face Forward Apprentice Leyla said: “Matthew is very punctual and demonstrates a positive attitude and willingness to learn more. He’s passionate about working with animals and keen to continue with volunteering. We’re glad to see him moving onto new challenges and feeling a lot happier with his life.”
Face Forward is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.