Kieran, 22, Leamington
How did you know about abob?
My drugs counsellor told me. I wanted to check them out and see who they were. I met up with Ben Philips and there was something about them and him that felt safe. That was my main criteria.
What were you looking for?
Help, support, friends, someone who cared.
How was the rites of passage weekend for you?
It was life-changing for me. It was amazing to feel so met. Even though I had to leave because I didn’t get any sleep and was anxious. It was still life-changing. Meeting new people who weren’t like the old ones in my life was so good. And showing my feelings in front of them, it was all new. It made me feel there is stuff to live for. It really helped my well-being. I surprised myself by doing lots of activities on the weekend. It was very different from my normal life. It felt so good to be there.
Did it improve your relationship with men?
Yes, definitely. I felt as though we were all connected. That was so important to me. I haven’t had enough true connection in my life. I felt so much better in myself afterwards.
How did you feel better?
I’ve got support now and has made me feel like a new person.
Tell me about your school life.
I got badly bullied at school. It affected everything in my life. I was constantly verbally abused in a cruel way and it just didn’t stop. If I could, I avoided going into school. I enjoyed detentions because I got away from the bullies. I would get myself into trouble in order to get a detention.
Could your parents do anything?
They did try but the school didn’t give them or me any support. So I just took it upon myself to go through it. It lasted for the whole of secondary school.
What about drugs?
Taking drugs was my way of coping with the pain and abuse. I left school at 16 and went to college but there I got into heavier drugs. I took an overdose. I nearly didn’t come back.
That’s how you got a drugs counsellor?
Yes, that was good. They were challenging but good. That helped me find abob. At this point, I really didn’t want to live. But my drugs counsellor really helped. I went to see her for years and she was very helpful.
And what difference has being with abob had?
They make me feel that there are good people out there. They give me hope about the future. They put out this love and caring for men. I feel safe with them. My parents tell me they are proud of me now. At my Homecoming, they said I was the number one attendee. That felt good.
How was mentoring for you?
It was a lovely experience. I’d never had anyone listen to me like that before. That was very healing in itself. At first, I didn’t want to do it but by the end, I didn’t want it to stop. I told Ben who was my mentor all about my past. That felt really great.
What’s your hope for the future?
To be normal again. That’s all I want. I feel like I’m well on the way. I’d like to be a mentor at abob. I’d like to give back. I’d like to help change another young man’s life.