James’ Story

James’ Story

“I just wanted to be me. Mustard Tree let me open up and find myself”.

James came to Mustard Tree with very low confidence and self-esteem preventing him from doing everyday tasks. Through his time with our warehouse and vans team, James has felt his confidence grow, learnt new skills and feels pride in his achievements.

“I came here because I had low confidence and really low self-esteem. I just wanted to be me. I was getting stressed out all the time as I was too closed, keeping everything in.  Mustard Tree let me open up and find myself”, says James.

James came to Mustard Tree as a way to learn skills and build self-confidence and started volunteering in our structured warehouse training scheme.

“I started in the warehouse fixing furniture and equipment donated for sale in our shop. I also got to go out on the vans as a driver’s mate to deliver and collect furniture items. I love the chance to go out all over the place – I love the countryside because I was brought up there as a child. Any chance I get to go outside the city centre I love to go. It makes me feel so peaceful”, says James.

Being in a supportive and positive environment can completely change your outlook – giving James the confidence to realise his value and build stronger relationships.

“My attitude towards people since I came to Mustard Tree has completely changed. I understand now how I used to deal with others was how people would deal with me, which wasn’t really very good. My partner Amanda and I have been together 12 years. Before we used to argue all the time. But life is so much better now and our relationship is amazing – we’re now engaged. I’m now known as ‘chilled out James’ because that’s how being here makes me feel. I am reaching out to new people a lot more than I was before and find it so much easier to talk to them”, says James.

Access to creative arts is not always equal or easy but Mustard Tree provides a place for people to try many different classes including art and drama. Creative arts is proven to build mental and physical wellbeing, alongside strengthening connections to community.

“More recently I have been trying new things, especially in creative arts because I have got so much more confident. Through the drama group, I have performed at the Royal Exchange and many other places! That has been one of the best therapies for me because it was so positive. Now I am learning about short film making and sound recording doing the new Mustard Tree podcast. I wouldn’t have ever done things like that if I wasn’t here, it’s allowed me to do so many new things”, says James.

Now, James feels accepted and respected, enabling him to find so much more enjoyment in life.

It’s just the kind of environment you want to be in. At other organisations I have been part of, I didn’t get the feeling of trust and understanding that I get here. But here I feel like the staff trust me. It means so much to me. If I’ve got any problems there’s always someone here to talk to and help you sort things out, whatever it is. I am truly accepted as myself and there is never any judgement. I love the whole feel – there’s something about it you can’t put your finger on it that just makes you feel good.  I am really enjoying where I’m at right now. I’m taking baby steps now towards finding work, so life is good”, says James.

James Clements , 43

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