When Leon was first referred to Health Works for Cornwall, he had already beaten addiction several times. From medication for severe back pain to marijuana, his willpower was amazing.
That same willpower was what got him up every day even though daily tasks felt like climbing a mountain on his darkest days. From July 2021, he struggled, having lost several friends to drugs and suicide during the COVID-19 period, but he continued.
Being as strong as he is, he just needed that boost to get him started in becoming employed again after 8 years.
In 2023, Leon met Lee from Job Centre Plus for the first time. Having asked for help from friends and family, but being unable to access the support that he needed, Lee made a huge difference throughout their weekly conversations and meetings.
This is when Lee suggested the Phoenix Project. The Phoenix Project is delivered by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, partnered with Health Works for Cornwall which is part-funded by the European Social Fund. The project gives participants the opportunity to engage in a range of fire service activities, designed to promote teamwork and communication skills, as well as teach the participants about fire safety and first aid. All skills which can be taken forward and put into practice when attending further education and training or in the workplace.
Leon didn’t know what to expect and was a little embarrassed to enter the program, but he trusted Lee. When he started the 3-day Health Works for Cornwall Phoenix Project course he had been clean from drugs and alcohol for over 8 weeks.
As the course progressed, the instructors and other participants in the course made him feel massively welcomed. He felt like he could be himself. The transformation in what he believed in from day 1 to day 2 was amazing. From feeling that he couldn’t do it for more than a few hours, to thoroughly enjoying the days that he was there, he felt amazing. By the end of day 3, they were discussing future opportunities that use the skills that they have learned.
The group performed their final drill in front of family and friends, receiving certificates from the Mayor; all the participants spoke amazingly, and the instructors were all so proud of them. The transformation in Leon after 3 days was astounding, with his willpower and willingness to learn being an asset throughout the process.
Leon started volunteering at the RSPCA the following Tuesday after a conversation with Lee.
After a few weeks of working with the RSPCA, Lee let Leon know about an opening at the Newquay Job Centre – he was perfect for the role.
It took a week of waiting and a few interviews, but he got the job.
Leon said, ‘I was completely shocked and overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe it. I was absolutely delighted and couldn’t wait to get started.’
‘My biggest problem through my darkest times was engaging with the outside world, the job centre was somewhere I didn’t want to be, but as it turns out, it was the place I got all my help from.’
‘I can’t wait to start my new role and support others and be part of a team.’