June 14, 2019
Losing your partner of 18 years is a traumatic and soul-destroying thing to go through. But how do even begin to carry on with life if you don’t feel like you can talk about your loss after keeping your relationship a secret from the people around you, all because it was with someone of the same sex?
For Ian, he simply couldn’t see a future without his partner, Bill. After trying to take his own life, Ian was receiving support from the local mental health team but was still struggling to find things to look forward to. At New Leaf, we work hard to help people like Ian to build themselves up when they feel they have nothing left to give.
I was in Hollins Park. I’d been sectioned because I tried to commit suicide. I’d just lost my partner of 18 years and what made it hard was that I couldn’t talk about it to anyone because my partner was a man and hardly anyone around me even knew I was gay. Bill and I lived our life together in Stockport and every day after I finished work I’d drive across from Warrington to spend all my spare time with him. When Bill died I lost my partner and I felt I’d lost everything. I had already given up my job to spend the last three months to stay with Bill at his bedside so when I finally came home I had no savings left. I was in debt and I had to get rid of my car because I couldn’t afford the tax and MOT. I didn’t want to carry on. I wrote a letter to say goodbye to my family, posted it and prepared to end my life. I’d carefully planned the letter to arrive in two days, but it was delivered the very next morning and I was found before I had died.
After being sectioned I found myself simply going through the motions of living a life, on the surface it looked like I was making plans but in reality, I was simply focussing on how I would find another way to die and even my dog, who I thought was being looked after, had been given away. I just couldn’t see a future for myself.
But after bumping into a New Leaf Community Energiser at St Elphins Park in Warrington, life started to change for the better. They helped get him with vouchers for the food bank and arranged to get him onto the New Leaf programme.
My mentor, Chris, is always there for me when I need him. He helped me apply for volunteering opportunity with Warrington Animal Welfare and introduced me to the I Am I Can training course. At first, I thought it was a bit of hippy nonsense, looking at mindfulness and resilience strategies, but I found I was able to talk about what happened to me. Better still, I found myself using the strategies, remembering to ground myself and live in that moment. While I couldn’t see a future, I could enjoy one moment in time. What kept me going were these distraction techniques and volunteering. I went on to form friendships with other people on the New Leaf programme and having others in my life who I can go out with, either shopping or for a drink, and who understand my situation has really helped. I can even joke about my situation now it is in perspective, on the last trip to the food bank I found myself having a chuckle at the fact I had my food in a ‘bag for life’.
Through the support from his mentor, the self-esteem he built through volunteering and learning to live in the moment thanks to I Am, I Can, Ian was now able to see a future for himself.
I’ve been able to go on the Aspire course through New Leaf and that’s opened a new career path for me. I used to work in warehousing but it’s going to be hard to get to the warehouse where I used to work without a car so I’m now looking at going into care work. I’m going on three more training courses to develop my skills in that area. I still have a cry every morning when I think about Bill but I know I’ve got a future now.
New Leaf is led by Torus Foundation and is part of the Building Better Opportunities Programme, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and The National Lottery Community Fund.