Corey, 22, Bristol
How did you know about abob?
I was having a crisis, I was involved in drugs, had just had a break up, and I really didn’t know what I wanted in life. I wanted to do myself in. It was a couple of years ago. My Personal Assistant – social services give you a PA to support you – told me about abob. So I went to see Marcus from abob. He helped me out around suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression. We did some work together around goals for the future and I wrote them down. He talked about abob being a mentoring organization that supports young men. And then he told me there was a weekend coming up. I like a challenge so I said I would go.
How was the Quest weekend?
A shock. I had no idea what to expect. It took place in the Forest of Dean which is beautiful. I went through various feelings of wanting to leave though. The feeling of the unknown is huge in it and you really do have to step out of your comfort zone. There was a point where you choose whether to commit to it and I found myself saying yes. Even though I was nervous and anxious and wondered what was going on.
What did you learn on this weekend?
To love myself. To not to be afraid to accept new challenges. The true meaning of what it is to be alive. Being around people where I could really speak from my heart. I had an epiphany part way through and it was that I would be really good at this.
I learnt to release pain from my shoulders that had been there since I was 13 years old. I’d had this pain for all this time.
Has it affected your relationships?
Well, I’ve always had bad relationships with women. I guess because of my relationship with my mum. And my father left when I was 11 so really hasn’t been around and never did what he said he was going to do. I had a good relationship with boys. The weekend and work with abob has increased my trust in older men. I was skeptical about older men but these ones have truly supported me and been there. Hopefully that will also help me with women too. I have found abob really empowering.
How was your mentoring experience?
Great. We had some really good conversations about relationships, family, budgeting and anger. He was surprised that I was already into meditation and had done kick boxing so I knew about containing my anger.
Tell us a bit about how it was for you when you were younger?
I had a lot of problems at school. I got kicked out of secondary school. I was fighting everyone. But then the PRU – Pupil Referral Unit – was a very supportive place. They helped me with maths, reading, writing and art. I started doing photography there. I went onto another school at 13 but that was difficult because the one teacher that I was inspired by, left, and my school work collapsed after that.
Do you still go to the weekly meetings with abob?
Yes, I love every minute of them. Each time I learn something different and it’s great to really connect with other men. And the atmosphere of no judgments is amazing. You can really say what you feel. That’s what I love.
Have you staffed a weekend?
Yes and it was really good. I had to learn what boundaries to put in place because I’m a young man with young men who are arriving for the first time. But I think I made them feel comfortable.
How do you see your future with abob?
I want to learn more and more. I’d like to mentor in the future and carry on staffing weekends. I’m also carrying on being mentored myself because that supports me a lot. I’d like to be a leader in the future. I love supporting others and this gives me a great way to do that.