Game Changer helps Ciaran get back into education
In April 2018, Ciaran, who was 23 at the time, was referred to Game Changer by Bodmin Job Centre – he’d been struggling with anxiety and wasn’t sure what his next steps were.
Ciaran said: “I’d gone through some mental health issues and I didn’t really know where I was going. I felt sort of deserted. I’d got over the worst of it myself and it got to the stage where I had to go back into work and stuff, and I didn’t really know where to start. I knew I was just going to be in the same position that I’d already been in.”
Ciaran tried to get involved in as many Game Changer events as he could.
“I went on an induction, and it was a good way of getting to know the other people on Game Changer, and I saw the people on the first one quite regularly after that as well. I still talk to some of them now.”
He used the Game Changer opportunity to see what it would be like to work in the support work sector and to hopefully one day go on to do work like Game Changer does. He said that it wasn’t just for his own benefit, but he also enjoyed helping other Game Changer members by sharing his experiences.
During his time with Game Changer, Ciaran took part in various skills based sessions, including: an introduction into 2D animation and the creative sector, going behind the scenes at the Eden Project, an introduction to health and social care with Pentreath Ltd, and an introduction to construction with Rosewarne College.
When asked about Rosewarne College, Ciaran said that he wasn’t a practical person at all and “didn’t know the difference between a spanner and a spaniel”, but decided to go along anyway because “it’s good to know a little bit about everything”.
Ciaran also got his CSCS card – which provides proof that individuals working on construction sites have the appropriate training and qualifications – and he believe this will be a good thing to have if he pursues a career in support work.
Hannah, a learning consultant for Game Changer, asked Ciaran if he’d like to do some work experience with the Game Changer program. He was able to help young people starting with Game Changer. He could tell them what to expect, as he had his own experiences to help them out with, and could answer any of their questions about the program.
“I guess it was like jumping in the deep end, but it didn’t really feel like that for me, because this is the kind of work I’d love to go into.”
Ciaran was able to lead part of a Game Changer session, which included a challenge based learning activity.
“I just went for it, even though in the past that would be the kind of thing I would have hated. I would never have been able to do it before, so I could see I was already improving.”
Ciaran also presented on a podcast, which was based around young people in Liskeard and the problems they face. He had previously done some radio work, but as Ciaran is from Bodmin, talking about Liskeard from an outsider’s perspective was a challenge for him.
“It was a good experience, and it proved quite beneficial in the future, because I ended up doing a radio piece with Paul from Game Changer.”
Paul invited Ciaran onto Liskeard Radio, and Ciaran explained that the old him would have said “no I’m ok, it’ll probably make me nervous”, but he thought he’d give it a go and he really enjoyed it.
By giving the Game Changer students tasks like this, it gives them confidence, engagement and communication skills.
“It’s hard to speak on the radio but by doing it; it can improve your mental health because you’re able to do this really cool thing that you couldn’t do before.”
Ciaran’s confidence went from strength to strength during his time with Game Changer, and he even presented one of the awards at the BBO awards last year. He describes this as the biggest achievement of his life so far.
“I’d gone from rock bottom and built myself up, but when you’re in the middle of it you still feel so far away from where you need to be. Even when I was at RIO, and they told me I was at a good level, I couldn’t see it because I didn’t have a job yet. They said all the voluntary work and engagement I’d had in the events would make me a good ambassador for Game Changer, so they asked me to do a speech at the awards ceremony.
“We went to Newquay to this huge building and I could see suits everywhere. My idea was to go in there and try to make them laugh. There were about 250 chairs, and the biggest audience I’d had for comedy before this was about 30 people. I was worried that they’d have no sense of humour. I was really looking forward to it but I was nervous at the same time.”
Ciaran was set to present the award just before the interval, and Chris Hines, a man with an MBE in public speaking, was on just before him.
“Everybody laughed so much at him that I felt like he’d opened the door and it would be much easier for me. When I got up there I said I was nervous and I managed to make them all laugh. I was buzzing after, and during the interval about 100 people came up to my table to say they really liked it! Lots of people were asking me if I’d want to go into public speaking for a career.”
Ciaran said that he would not have been able to do that without what he’d learnt from Game Changer.
“Game Changer gave me tools that I could use to build myself up. I wish I’d found Real Ideas when I was 18, I’d be a CEO by now!”
Ciaran has now started his access course into higher education in social sciences, as he wants to learn the theory behind support work and broaden his horizons. He’s hoping to go to Plymouth University to do social work.
“I want to help people improve themselves. I’m really enjoying my access course and I’m getting good marks.”
Ciaran is also waiting to start part time work at the moment.
He had nothing but positive things to say about Game Changer, and feels that they’ve been invaluable in his progression towards starting a career.
“If you’re rowing, you’ve got a spotter at the front of the boat. They tell you what direction to go in, and if you get that wrong and they end up doing it for you, you will never learn for yourself. When they tell you to turn right, it’s up to you to turn right.
“Game Changer have navigators for a reason, they’ve been my spotter, but it’s still been up to me to progress. They’ve helped me steer my ship rather than steer the ship for me.”