I have been out of paid work for over 5 years. About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Before I found FST it was really difficult to get any meaningful work experience. Other organisations wouldn’t let you near anything important, didn’t give you responsibility or opportunity to progress. I found myself competing for voluntary work placements against graduates fresh out of college. I got one position but it only lasted for two weeks.
I saw an advert about FST offering work placements for people with mental health problems so I called them. I liked the fact that I could get work experience without having to explain myself.
Within my first week I was working in the finance department. It was great to get stuck in straight away and do something important.
FST recognises that everyone has their issues but it doesn’t delve into them. I also appreciate the fact that with FST the door is always open. You may become unwell but when you come back you can get straight back into things.
Working at FST has made me more confident speaking to people and meeting new people. The person I was three years ago when I started is not the confident person I am today. I’ve been involved in launching a new project – setting up administrative systems, helping with marketing – all things completely new to me. I was also asked to sit in on the interview panel for the new manager and that made me feel really valued.
I know my mental health can let me down but I feel I can endure it better now, the pressure doesn’t build up like it used to – my illness isn’t going to stop me playing an active role in society. There’s nothing equivalent to FST in terms of work placements.
Names have been changed.