Connor, 24, was in abob Cornwall, now lives in Sheffield.
How did you find out about abob?
I actually found out when I was at college and about 16 or 17. James – one of the abob Cornwall leaders – was doing a Remembering Our Roots workshops and he told me. But it was a year later when I bumped into him by chance and I was struggling with anxiety and my mental health that it was the right time to do a weekend. By this time, I had tried everything like CBT but nothing worked. I was quite desperate.
How was the rites of passage weekend for you?
I was totally out of my comfort zone. I was blindfolded and that was difficult. It’s part of the rites of passage but I didn’t understand at the time, I was terrified. It was all a challenge for me to become more open. I’d always been closed up because that’s what I’d learnt in my family.
What did you personally get out of it as I’m interviewing you five years later?
I learnt a lot about myself. In fact more than I’d every learnt before. It was all about trust. And realising that everyone there was there to support you. That was enormous. I also learnt so much more about what it is to be a man. I started to realise that I had choices. That was huge for me. I realised that I could choose a different kind of life. Accepting myself and giving myself some respect were the big ones for me.
And you met Izzi there who became your mentor?
Yes, I loved his mohawk that he had at the time. And what it said about him. He was phenomenal as a mentor. No-one could have supported me more. He went above and beyond to help me out. He would pick me up and take me to meetings. We used to go and have a coffee Redruth. We got to know each other well. It didn’t feel like therapy, it felt like a friendship. And that was what I needed.
Did you go to the meetings every week?
I did go along for some time. They were so useful. After a week of stress building up, we could go there and really share our feelings. So one week, it might be feeling good and another the opposite. Also you didn’t have to talk. It was a choice. There is a feeling that everyone is equal, it never feels hierarchical. We have so much respect for each other. These meetings really built my confidence up.
What happened with your confidence?
I’d say that I’m ADHD but I’ve never been diagnosed.
Are you still involved with abob now you’ve moved to Sheffield?
Well I always say abob never leaves you. So abob is still very much inside me but there aren’t any groups near to here. Abob will never leave my heart.
Why did you move?
I found a girlfriend who lives up here and meeting her was a big turning point in my life. I had to grow up.
And you’ve just done a course?
Yes in coding. I want to get a job in IT.
How do you see abob now?
It feels like those experiences especially with Izzi are always with me.
What would your mum say about the abob effect on you?
She’d be very grateful. She was at the end of her tether about me before I found abob. Nothing was working. I was still off the rails in terms of partying and bad mental health.