Becky’s Story: Helping People Makes Me Stronger

Becky is one of the participants on the LEAP volunteer programme at the Good Shepherd, where people with experience of homelessness and other issues are able to provide help and support to service users accessing the charity, whilst also pursuing their own training and employment opportunities.

Prior to enrolling on LEAP, Becky admits she barely had the confidence to leave home, following several years of severe mental health challenges including a lengthy hospitalisation.

But now she is going from strength to strength and having a really positive impact on the Good Shepherd as a whole.

This is Becky’s story.


I had some difficult times growing up, and left home when I was 17 to go into care, and, at the age of 19, I nearly died from an overdose.

Eventually I was hospitalised and kept in a mental health hospital under a Section 3 order for seven years.

I was diagnosed with acute psychosis and EUPD (Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder) which meant sometimes I wanted help, and then I didn’t – that is all part of the condition.

I would also take risks with self-harming and the overdose, but eventually the medication worked well and I haven’t self-harmed in nearly five years now.

After I was put on the medication, I was able to engage with services properly and I had a lovely psychologist in hospital who was amazing and helped me so much.

I learned to deal with how to correct my emotions and express them in a healthy way instead of a negative way, and I’m really thankful to her for that.

I came out of hospital about two-and-a-half years ago, and that obviously led to completely new challenges.

It was about moving from a place where I could receive support 24-7, to a situation of that support being available for a couple of hours a day – it was a big change.

I had left school with nothing, no GCSE’s or anything, and, when I was looking for work, nobody would take me because I didn’t have any experience or wasn’t considered a suitable candidate.

My friend Sharon told me about the Good Shepherd and the LEAP programme, but I was really worried about coming and trying it out.

I was worried that I might get judged, and I am also dyslexic, so was a bit embarrassed about having to tell people that I can’t spell.

I can still remember when I arrived and spoke to Chris (LEAP Project Manager Chris Cole) for the first time, and, from there, I haven’t looked back.

My confidence has grown so much, because before this I wouldn’t even go to the shops on my own or get a taxi on my own.

Now I am doing all that, travelling to Birmingham and all sorts, and it’s amazing how much things have changed for me.

This is my first ever work environment, but everyone has been so supportive – there is always someone to talk to if we need it and always someone to ask if we have a query.

Everyone on the LEAP programme has had their own different challenges but we can all relate to each other, and we are not pressed into doing anything.  If we are struggling, we can take a bit of time out and then come back when we are ready.

Being on LEAP is about volunteering to help the people who are accessing the Good Shepherd, and I now feel I am making a really positive contribution, which makes my confidence grow even more.

I am doing things like answering the door to speak to people who arrive, helping to assess them or making sure we refer them to the right place if needed.

We are trying to help people here from all sorts of different backgrounds whether they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have mental health problems. 

I have been in hospital with people dealing with those same challenges, so I think I have some empathy which really helps, and I am also learning something new every single day.

I love helping people, being involved in some form of care work is what I have always wanted to do, and this has given me a massive opportunity.    In an ideal world, I’d like to work with people experiencing mental health problems or in end-of-life care.  Two very different things, but both where you are helping people through really difficult times.

I have had some more of those recently, as I lost by Nan and Grandad, which hit me hard.  My Nan was like my best friend but we lost her while I was in hospital.

She was my biggest support, she kept me going, and hopefully she is looking down on me now saying, ‘I’m proud of you, Bec’.

I lost my one Grandad just before I started here and my other Grandad more recently.

Everyone at the Good Shepherd was so supportive at that time, checking I was o-k and if I needed anything, and that was really nice and made me feel I wasn’t dealing with my grief on my own.

Just everything about being here is really supportive and has helped me settle in.

I have been here a year-and-a-half and without the Good Shepherd and the LEAP project, there is no way I would have the confidence that I do now.

It makes me feel like I am doing something with my life, and I just want to continue to move forward to try and achieve my ambition of working within a care setting.

The challenges I have faced have made me a stronger person, and I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

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