Daniel, aged 17
I’ve always dreaded meeting new people and going anywhere for the first time. I become really anxious and unwell just thinking about it. I was abused when I was younger, taken out of my family home and eventually adopted.
When it came to starting college (where I’d got a place to study animal care) I just couldn’t face it. Speaking to my Connexions PA I realised, although it was still scary, I would feel more comfortable and find it easier to learn in a smaller group so my PA referred me to Catch22's Opt In Plus in Redhill.
I went along with my mum to find out a bit more and to see if the programme was right for me. I explained how I wanted to become more happy and confident and described the kind of things I was keen to get involved in and Paul, the Opt In Plus programme manager, explained what I could expect from Opt In Plus and the activities I could participate in.
I decided to join the foundation learning programme. The group was small and friendly and I quickly felt comfortable in their company and got involved in group discussions.
On the programme I worked hard towards my Level 1 exams in English and Maths, created my CV, gained experience of completing application forms, and learnt how to job search. I also prepared for a mock job interview and received feedback.
During my time with Opt In Plus my confidence grew so much that I started to volunteer at my local RSPCA, which I really enjoyed. I have also started to apply for jobs and apprenticeships, I have had a few unsuccessful applications but Opt In Plus have taught me how to handle them and not to take things personally. They still support me even though I’ve finished the course.
I still get anxious sometimes but nowhere near as badly as before, and I feel more confident to say my opinion rather than saying what I think others want to hear. I’ve also started going to youth club, something I would never have done before the programme.