Billy met his Game Changer Navigator, George, whilst attending A Band of Brothers – a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems, as George does volunteer work with them. Straight away, George could see how Billy could benefit from the support of the Game Changer programme. Before coming across Game Changer and meeting George, he was struggling to function as part of society and had many barriers that were holding him back from reaching his potential.
Billy lacked motivation and he also struggled with agoraphobia and his mental health. He had spent a decade stuck at home playing computer games alone.
When George started working with Billy on Game Changer he had a flexible approach that really helped bring him out of his shell.
Billy might have been at home a lot during those years, but he still had a lot to say about the areas he felt passionately about, and politics is one of those areas. George arranged for him to take on a work experience opportunity with the local constituency – politics was his passion. This experience was so positive that it gave him confidence and encouraged him to continue to work on overcoming his barriers. Not only that, but he wanted to help other young men who had similar struggles, so he now works as a volunteer with A Band of Brothers. He is a mentor and facilitates training sessions to help other young men like him.
“I found that working on Game Changer with George really helped. How flexible he was and how he worked at my pace made a difference. He helped me so much and now I am helping other young men who are similar to me.”
Billy’s whole lifestyle has changed. No longer does he stay in his room alone all the time. He now gets up at 6:00am to go to the gym or take part in weight-lifting classes. He mentors. He engages with others and supports others. He is still a gamer, but he does this differently now too. Instead of playing at home alone, he is part of a social gaming culture where young people get together in the same physical space to play – a great way for everyone to enjoy gaming whilst being social and part of the community.
Reflecting on the progress Billy has made, George comments:
“The progress Billy has made in the 8 months I’ve been working as his Navigator is nothing less than astounding. From a life spent living in his dressing gown, contemplating suicide on a daily basis, Billy is now taking an active role in turning around the lives of young men stuck in the position he was.
At the outset it was clear that to try and rush Billy into work for the sake of working could have been hugely to his detriment. So my approach was to work with Billy step by step, first in breaking the pattern of isolation through Social Gaming, leveraging that into regular volunteering for A Band Of Brothers, which in turn awoke in Billy an intrinsic desire to take back control of his life, starting with his fitness and physical health.
All of which has brought Billy to the point that he is now ready to commit long-term to the right job. In his own words, he affirms, “I have a home and a purpose. I have a meaning, but no means.”
The final stage of my work with Billy will be to help him open the door to the job that can provide the means on an ongoing basis.”
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Game Changer is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the National Lottery Community Fund.