Tommy says; chase your dreams.

Tommy wants to get the word out, he’s full of great advice, he’s been through a lot, and wants to tell people his age that if he can do it, they can too…

Can you tell us your story, Tommy?

Yeah, I was working before but it was when I was on the sick, and I got caught out, I didn’t declare I was working, so I messed up there. I ended up going to college, doing a couple of courses, like brick laying, just to get my confidence back up and stuff like that.  

In 2015 I moved into the YMCA, I was homeless, just sofa surfing for three years, but then they paid for my fork-lift licence and that’s how I started working in warehouses, I started on agency work, and then I started a job back in October 2020, at East Midlands Airport, but I was only there for about two weeks. 

Why didn’t it work out?

I was suffering from really bad depression and I thought going to work might help so I chucked myself in the deep end, I was doing nights and 48 hour shifts and with the travel too, it was getting too much pressure for me.

I was working for a warehousing company, it was a good job, but with the travelling I wasn’t getting home till late, I was only having about four hours sleep, and the next minute I was getting up to go back again. On a Sunday I was doing a twelve-hour shift, from 8 till 8. 

So when I quit at East Midlands, I couldn’t find no job after that, so I went on this Aspire course, I did a course with them. I’d done a course before but it had to be scrapped because of covid, but when I did this new course, it changed a lot for me. It was to do with safeguarding of children, the course, and I got my first aid and mental health certificates, quite different to what I’d been doing, and now I couldn’t be any happier, in the position I’m working at the minute.

“Aspire has opened a lot of doors for me, I did my Teaching Assistant level 2, and I passed that, and now I’ve got a part time job at a school. I never thought about doing it, until I went on the Aspire course and I was reading up about it.”

I thought, you know what, I want to give teaching a go. I’m still young, I wanted to keep my options open but now I’ve been working since January, at the school, and I’m enjoying it. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy job, and I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but you’re there to safeguard children and make sure they’re behaving at dinner time, and I know the school really well because I went there myself. It’s strange to go back, because some of my teachers are still there! Working as a member of staff there, it’s a whole new experience! 

I’m hoping to stay there for a few years and a Teaching Assistant job will crop up, I get told I’m doing my job really well and I’ve worked since January, through a lockdown, and I’ve been doing covid testing too for about five weeks. 

I look back and I used to be like the kids I look after, and it’s just nice to get the experience and it could lead to further things in the future. I just want to be able to help the kids out. To be honest, at school I was rubbish at maths and English but now I just want to learn new skills so I can tell people how far I’ve come. I look back now, and I think to myself, how far I’ve come in three years, and getting the support through Julie at Way2Work, that’s helped me a lot.

How has Way2Work helped you?

Julie at Derby Employment Hub helped me to get into voluntary work, and gave me support, she believed in me, she helped me with application forms and she gave me a little bit more confidence, and I like to keep her updated with what I’m doing. I couldn’t imagine going back to my old self, because I’ve come so far, I don’t drink, or smoke weed any more, and I feel so much better about myself. I’m in my own house now, it’s a nice area and there are good people around here. 

Have you any advice for people in your position?

My advice to people out there who are struggling, if you don’t get your mindset straight you don’t know what you want to achieve. I thought to myself, you know what, I’m going to set myself some goals. I said, this is where I want to be in seven months time, and it didn’t take me long to go from doing the Aspire course to Julie helping me out, to where I am now. If you set your mind to it and you believe that you can do it, get your head down and get stuck in, I may have messed up back then, but I let go of the past, and now I look to the future, I think positive and stay positive, and I’ve still got goals and I’m going to achieve them. 

“I left myself in the dark for a very long time and until I called out that I needed help. To people my age who need the help, I’d say ask for it, don’t be afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help.”

There are people who are willing to help you, if I didn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That’s why I spoke to you today, I want to help other people. Whatever you want to do, even if you just want to work in a shop, set courses some goals, learn about it, research it and give it a go. I’m determined to get myself motivated, if you can’t be bothered, you’ve got no motivation, but if you’re motivated, you’re going to do it.

People say, you’re a failure, but you’re not, you’re just not ready, and then you go back to it and you keep trying. I thought that, ages ago, but then I got my mind set, I got my head screwed on and I got my head down and I thought I’m going to prove to myself that I can do it. There is help out there, anyone can do anything.

If you’re still young, make the most of your life, go out get a job, if it doesn’t suit you, keep it and look for something else, that’s how I looked at it.

To find out more about Way2Work, call Nottingham Jobs on 0115 876 4508. 

Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

The Way2Work project is part of the Nottingham Jobs Service and is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).