On the way to my interview my work and enterprise coach told me to go in there and “blow my own trumpet”, so I did… and I was successful!
After being self-employed on and off throughout my life I’d never thought about working with customers in a trade setting, but here I am, and I absolutely love it! My experience as a painter and decorator makes me feel like I can be a real ambassador for B&Q, and I’m enjoying being able to expand the knowledge of other staff too. I was nervous at first in case they thought I was trying to be the ‘new guy who knows everything’, but staff and customers seem to love what I can offer and they’re always seeking me out for advice.
I first started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil and my mum had to regularly check on me to make sure I wasn’t up drawing and painting all night before school. Given that, I suppose it seemed natural that I started a college course in painting and decorating when I grew older.
My training actually began after a couple of years in prison. A difficult childhood with an abusive father meant I turned to substance misuse to get me through, and that eventually led me to crime in order to fund my addiction.
As soon as I was out of prison I started my college course and then began working, but I relied on other people to do everything else in my life. I used to get up, go to work and then come back home because it was all I could manage.
Addiction is a truly awful thing - it takes everything you have and if it doesn’t do it all at once, it gradually chips away until you’re left with nothing. The way it controls your life is hard to comprehend for some, but for me, it felt like my only instinctive option because it was all I’d ever known.
After years of going round in similar cycles dictated by addiction, my partner left me. It was the shock I needed and I decided things had to change. That’s when I started reaching out to organisations that could help and I’m so thankful to have been able to work with the team at BBO.
Another relationship break down last year is the sort of trigger that would have sent me back to using, but for the first time in my life I didn’t find an escape that way – it’s probably the thing I’m most proud of, and it was the thought of my new job at B&Q and a chance at a normal life that kept me on the right track. I couldn’t have done it without my BBO coaches. They’ve been an absolutely brilliant support.
My goal for the future is to start working full time at B&Q and to start saving up for a holiday and other nice things. It’s funny - I never used to think about going for a haircut, or buying a new pair of shoes so that I look smart, but now I’m able to do those things.
I finally feel like people don’t look down on me and I don’t look down on myself. It’s a new start and I couldn’t be happier about the opportunities I’ve embraced and the future I can now look forward to.