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After a typical day at work, Bob returned home to find his wife and children gone from the family home, along with most of their belongings and furniture. Life became particularly tough for Bob. Not knowing where to turn, he began taking longer lunch breaks, spending up to 2 hours in the pub each day. Eventually this affected his work and he lost his job.

Bob used his redundancy pay to buy a push bike and camping equipment, and undertook a National Cycle route. With nothing to look forward to, he slept in his tent and continued to drink every day, not caring if it took him a day to ride a mile. Bob settled for some time and moved into a flat provided by a housing association.

He occasionally volunteered at the Job Centre, helping people write CV’s, but for the majority of the time he would sit in his flat drinking up to 8 litres of cider every day. After a year Bob found himself staying at a night shelter and decided things needed to change.

In February 2013 Bob was offered a place at the YMCA Hostel. He attended the free open clinic once a week to tackle his substance abuse, and began engaging with support staff and his keyworker. Within 6 months Bob was referred to the STEP Programme, a 3 step process which provides vocational training, work experience and a paid work placement to help residents transition back into employment.

Bob attended an interview for a Chaplaincy Assistant, his first in 10 years, and successfully commenced STEP in. He signed off from receiving Job Seekers Allowance, and is no longer in receipt of benefits.

Bob says “I am having more ‘dry’ days than ever before as I now have something to look forward to, my mind is occupied, and I am busy. I enjoy the variety of the job and the mix of people I work with. No one day is the same.”

Bob has developed confidence in speaking with small groups of people; he can talk confidently on the telephone and has improved his communication skills. He is able to cope and deal with problems head on, rather than hiding away.

Looking ahead, Bob is excited about the prospect of being able to move on from the YMCA to live independently and obtain full-time employment. He is hoping to use the skills and confidence gained by continuing to take steps towards a more positive future.

Bob’s confidence has grown immensely in the time he has been working with me. He is noticeably more settled in himself and is able to deal with things that, before he started STEP, he would have taken as setbacks that couldn’t be overcome. It has been a real blessing and privilege to be part of Bob’s journey and I pray that the STEP Programme will be as positive for others as it has been for Bob’. Matt Penny – Chaplain & Support Worker