Matt

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I joined the Freedom Project to improve my self confidence and try to overcome my gambling addiction. I was experiencing depression and I had promised my children that I would stop. I hoped the Freedom Project would give me something to do during the day so I wouldn’t go to the bookies. I also wanted to get new skills to help me find a job.

I volunteer in the retail department and I feel respected by the staff and team, which is tight-knit and close. My confidence has improved and I feel like I’m actually worth something. I have a disability and people don’t pity me. I’m not stopped from doing things but instead given a chance. The supervisors have taken me under their wing and taught me lots of new things, taking time out for me even when they’ve been busy.

I’m part of the drama group, one of the activities at Mustard Tree. This has given me a lot of self-belief and so have the facilitators; Fran; Rosarie; and especially Chelsea. Chelsea has taught me that you don’t always have to like someone to get on with them and what it means to be civil. I’ve been in many performances and two of them were televised. In the BBCs, ‘The Passion’, I played Judas.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt is to accept when I am wrong. Before I used to always dig my heels in and never think about the bigger picture. Now, I take a step back, I stay calm and prefer to work my way out of problems rather than use my fists. The counselling I received through Mustard Tree has helped me develop techniques to stop gambling. I self-excluded myself from the bookies and haven’t been for 2 and a half years.

There were many times when the Freedom Team could have told me to leave because of a few incidences, but they gave me a second chance and I’m so glad because I blossomed with it. Mustard Tree is like a second home.