New Leaf is transforming people's lives
2 August 2018Sarah Hampson feels like a different person to how she was 10 years ago.
Back then, the mum of two was suffering from social anxiety, agoraphobia, stress, depression and was struggling to cope with the world around her.
Looking back, the cause of her mental and emotional health problems is now very clear to Sarah, who said: “I had suffered domestic abuse and used to think the way I was being treated was normal.”
She says she was a shell of the person she has now become and believes her transformation is down to her own inner strength and her association with the Council-backed project New Leaf. She has come a long way from a point in the past when the effects of what she had been going through hit her unexpectedly.
Sarah had found a new partner and they had a child together. She said: “I had a two year old son at the time. One day the walls tumbled down big time. I had a massive breakdown at work and had to leave my job in the NHS.”
Sarah received jobseekers allowance, but at times struggled to find the confidence to make the journey to the job centre.
She said: “One day I had a bit of confidence and I came up to the library in Ellesmere Port with my partner and I was sorting the rent or something out. I was feeling a bit more confident than usual and I saw Work Zone written above and I thought ‘what do they do?’”
Sarah explained her situation to a Work Zone employee and was introduced to a mentor who works for New Leaf.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is part of the New Leaf partnership which offers intensive one to one support to people living in Ellesmere Port.
New Leaf programme will support more than 2,800 people from across Cheshire over three years until September 2019, enabling them to move closer to employment.
The project has received £10.6 million of funding from the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. It is part of their Building Better Opportunities programme to invest in local projects tackling the root causes of poverty, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.
Sarah added: “New Leaf has been a lifesaver for me. Without the help and support from them I wouldn’t be here. I have had a lot of support. It has been everything. You have got to want to have the help and I know I need it. The mentor saw they could give me the help. I accepted it but it was difficult to accept the help and know that someone was telling me that I can do things after being told that I couldn’t for so many years.
“They helped me with mental health, counselling, one to one mentoring, they have given me money advice, loads of things, I have gone into volunteering and they have given me a job.”
Sarah is on a one year contract with New Leaf as their community energiser. She is tasked with finding other people in Ellesmere Port who are in a similar position to her and to introduce them to the benefits of receiving support from New Leaf. She has lined up another job for when her contract ends.
She added: “My family life is happier because I haven’t got the worries on my mind. It has also helped my partner. He felt stuck in his job but because he knew I could do it, it inspired him to do it and change his career. It doesn’t just change one person’s life it can change the whole family’s life.
“New Leaf gave me choices as to what I wanted to do and where I’d like to go. My choice was that I’d like to go into teaching. I was put in touch with a passion for learning. I have passed my PTLLS Training course through New Leaf. I am now trained to teach adults I just need to figure out what I want to specialise in. I am working in reception class in a school too. I haven’t got time to be sitting there like I used to with everything going on in my head.”
Councillor Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, said: “New Leaf helps people rebuild their lives, despite their personal circumstances. People leave the project with a can do attitude, an array of employable skills and often a secured job.
“New Leaf really is transforming people’s lives. It does so by focusing on their personal situation and addressing their needs. New Leaf accesses all of the important resources available to help that person improve their future employment prospects.”
If you are interested in finding out more about how New Leaf could help you, please contact the New Leaf team on 0151 356 6771.
Sarah added: “New Leaf is a one stop shop which can address money, counselling and training. However, no one offers a job on a plate, you have got to work towards a job and New Leaf is offering the help through every inch of your life, every worry and every issue, but people need to be willing to take it. People have got to accept the help.”