A Mansfield resident who suffered from such bad agraphobia he was trapped in his own home now helps other get back into work.
Max Burrows, 24, suffered with agraphobia, depression and and anxiety, and at his worst he didn’t leave his home for a year.
He said: “I was completely trapped in my own home. It was also when my depression was at its worst, so I didn’t have any willpower to get up and do anything.”
Max had panic attacks walking from his house to the job centre.
Max now works as an ambassador at the Towards Work project, helping others like him get back to work, after they helped him.
The scheme, run by the charity Groundwork Greater Nottingham, works with local people and organisations to help people to get back into employment.
Max said: “I used to find it difficult to work with other people and it actually led to me having a mental breakdown at 21.
“The agoraphobia was a by-product of that breakdown.”
Thanks to the project, Max now finds himself doing things he never thought he could, such as speaking to crowds, conducting mock interviews and liaising with mental health organisations.
He said: “When I first went to Towards Work, I had to take my grandmother with me because I was afraid of being there on my own.
“I used to do just temp and agency work, but now, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am doing something meaningful and helping other people.”
Katie Ratcliffe, a single mum who needed help with her confidence and anxiety problems has also received help from the project.
She said: “I struggled as I got older with the lack of confidence, but Towards Work has changed my life.
“I am now confident enough to see the true me and I now want to help people like myself,”
Darryl Plummer, performance and compliance manager at the charity said: “This project offers so much more than training.
“It is about understanding the barriers many people face in gaining employment and dealing with them to remove these roadblocks, be they physical, fiscal, emotional or mental.
“This is about breaking the cycle and getting people into work.
“That is why we are so proud to have our ambassadors on board with this. They have faced these challenges, they know the barriers but crucially, they have broken them down and they have overcome them.”
To find out more information about Towards Work, visit www.towardswork.org.uk