Back to Work : John Bambrough’s Story

September 26, 2015
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Following a long term mental health issue I returned to the job market in 2013.  I was disillusioned to discover that, at 55 years old, all my qualifications were out of date, my age was against me and my options were limited. This, coupled with ever increasing financial pressures, left me feeling helpless and surplus to requirements.

My Jobcentre Advisor recommended that I attend the first ever Active Plus personal development course for 50 year olds and over being held in Somerset, which just happened to be in my home town of Yeovil.  Having attended many courses before, I was doubtful that I could benefit from this but I felt that I had nothing to lose so I went along anyway.

The course started in September 2013 and turned out to be unlike any other course I had ever experienced.  Active Plus is not classroom based; instead, it relies upon a combination of practical exercises and coaching techniques to build confidence, communication skills, team working, problem solving and life coaching.  Within a short time the course became the highlight of my week, my confidence improved, my attitude changed.  The Active Plus instructors were caring and instilled confidence, soon friends and family commented on my enlightened attitude.

I wasn’t alone, others on the course had similar experiences, and as a group we realised that we were helping each other. When the course finished, the group chose to continue meeting once a week, supported by the Jobcentre.  As time passed, nearly all of us had either found jobs, moved on to self employment, started volunteering or had enrolled on educational training courses.

As for me, I literally went through a complete transformation.  From being negative and difficult, I became positive and helpful to others (so I am told).  I felt a lot better about myself and realised that I could still build a good future.  I even had my long hair cut short and smartened myself up – a very public statement that I was a changed man!

I started volunteering with Active Plus on a regular basis and worked in several towns across Somerset helping others in similar situations to myself.  I learnt more about Active Plus every week and became more impressed than ever; it’s a great organisation full of amazing people.

Whilst volunteering with Active Plus I soon discovered that an instructor’s skills and knowledge are not all learnt in the classroom; they have a huge amount of life experiences and not all of it has been good!  They could have cried “poor me” but didn’t.  Instead they chose to help others achieve their goals, myself included.

Striving to meet my own goals has empowered me to accept those things that I cannot control and to use the things I can control to achieve my goals. Before long I got my first reward, my own little car; it wasn’t easy to afford such luxuries on Job Seekers Allowance but I did it.  Then in June 2014, to my great joy, Active Plus offered me a position as an employed instructor.  Wow!  I still cannot believe it, I am an Instructor for Active Plus – it feels good just to type those words.

I’ve taken a keen interest in the work of Victor Frankl (a world famous psychiatrist) and Stephen Covey (a renowned life coach), both of whom feature in the syllabus of our Active Plus courses. I now not only share their teachings with clients on our courses but also make sure I apply them in my daily life so that I actually ‘walk the talk’ and experience the benefits for myself.

Although I’m happy with the stability that employment has given me, the real highlight of my life is the opportunity to help others through Active Plus. My experiences with Active Plus have been literally life changing and I am forever grateful to the Jobcentre and Active Plus for giving me this opportunity.  Thank you!!

Oh, and if you think the story is over, I can assure you it isn’t, Active Plus will be my career for a long time yet!