James, Falmouth, 26


How did you find out about abob?

I was part of a group down here in Cornwall that supports young parents because I have two children, and Luke Keast is part of it and also part of abob. I was going through challenges with my mental health and he recommended joining abob.


Did you have mentoring before the Quest rites of passage weekend? 

Yes, I did ten weeks mentoring with Izzi Polehampton who really went above and beyond his role as a mentor to support me. He would come and pick me up and take me to the weekly meetings. I really appreciated his dedication. He really helped me open up around my feelings.


How was your experience of the weekend?

It was a very powerful weekend for me. I’d always suppressed all my emotions. I learnt and was free to express grief and anger. That was so good for me. I started finding out what it meant to channel healthy expression of feelings in life. It felt so good to be held in a safe space. I really didn’t understand this kind of expression before. It’s also so important to hear other men’s stories, it’s the beginning of starting to see the world. I used to be too self-centred to do that.


Tell me a bit about your background?

 I didn’t have a father figure around. It was hard. My mum was working and doing what she needed to do to keep me and my brother going but I felt on my own in many ways. In terms of parentlng. I don’t blame my mum, she was doing her best but it was tough. My granddad was very important to me and he died two years ago which was also very difficult.


Tell me what happened when you were 16?

I had to have one of my testicles removed. It was terrible for me as a teenager. I felt less of a man. I put myself down a lot. Being with other people was hard. It was an intense learning curve. I think I still have some PTSD from this time.


How is your relationship with your mum these days?

Much better. I’m a lot more civil with her. I felt so angry about my past, I took it out on her. I realise more about it now.


And your children?

They have different mothers and I try to see them as much as I can. I’ve developed a better bond with my eldest son who is 7 since abob. Also with my ex partners.


How about your relationship with your new partner?

It’s good because was honest from the start. I had some police allegations against me when we met so I told her all about them. They were eventually dropped. I feel as though there’s been huge growth for me around my relationships. I can’t change what happened but I can change what will happen.


How do you see your future with abob?

I want to give back to those men who need support. I’d like to mentor young men. But you have to be 35 here in Cornwall to mentor so I have some time to wait. Abob really changed my life for the better so I want to make sure I give back. I also want to get the word out ab out abob and what they do.