My name is Mark, I am 35 years old and I suffer from depression due to event in my past. At the start of 2015 my life slowly began to change for the better when I started volunteering at Mustard Tree. I did not think I was going to stay, in the past I have never stuck at anything. My first day all the other volunteers seemed to know each other well and I did not know anyone. I kept myself to myself, due to the fact I was scared, I thought I was going to be laughed at. I had friends in the past but no longer and I did not think I would make any here. Then one volunteer supervisor took me under her wing and named me ‘toy man’, giving me oversight of the toy department, something I was interested in. Within weeks I started to understand how the shop worked and I got a bit of confidence.

Alongside the friends I made with other volunteers, I got one to one support from the staff and just by asking how I was coping, I opened up about some past issues and I felt I was listened to and not judge. I gained the support of professional counselling at Mustard Tree that helped me to understand my past. The staff assured me that other volunteers had similar problems and that they were here to help with work opportunity and give me a better future.

I was happy to hear that; it motivated me, to say to myself ‘I can do this’ – being here and stop listen to people who put me down, because here at Mustard Tree I have finally made friendship with other volunteers, staff and customers.

These people have never failed me and have stuck by me since I started. I have proven to myself I can make friends again; in helping others through the shop as they came in, I found that I was helping myself to gain more confidence. This has been far better than sitting at home doing nothing. I would advise if I can do it, so can you.

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