Success stories

Vicky's story

Vicky beats depression and wins silver medal

Vicky is now a black belt in taekwondo and recently represented England in the European Championships, where she gained a silver medal but for years she suffered with depression. This led to drug and alcohol misuse and numerous run-ins with the police. She spent the majority of her late teens in secure units. Her story is told in her own words...

“…depressive tendencies” During my teens and early twenties, my depressive tendencies made me feel unsafe. I was getting into all sorts of trouble and eventually I became too scared to go out alone. I spent most of my time in my flat and when I did venture out I’d end up having panic attacks and getting into more trouble. Regular employment was out of the question.

Eventually, with the help of a support worker, I began to get out a bit more, and one day I came across a poster advertising local taekwondo classes. I’d done karate when I was younger and thought I’d give it a go. My support worker encouraged and accompanied me, and after my first class I was hooked. After two months of taekwondo I was a completely different person: more confident, more optimistic. This gave me the boost I needed, and I asked my social worker about how I could go about doing some voluntary work.

“…course on getting back to work” My social worker put me in touch with ESRA, and I began a course on getting back to work. It was all quite daunting. I was still on medication, I didn’t drive and I had hardly spoken to anyone in years. The prospect of group work was utterly terrifying. But the people at ESRA were amazing. My employment support worker helped me focus on what I wanted to do and how I should go about achieving it. I’d always been sporty and wanted to do something in that area. I had one scary interview for a job I didn’t want and pulled out of another. I was so nervous about the whole thing. It was clearly going to be a long process.

“…assistant instructor!” In the meantime, the taekwondo was going really well. My instructor had noticed my ‘natural ability’ and offered me a voluntary teaching position. After only three years of training, I achieved my black belt. Back at ESRA, my adviser suggested a meeting with my taekwondo instructor about possibly working for him. Next thing I know, after her persistence, I was offered the position of assistant instructor! I couldn’t believe it. With the help of ESRA I was then placed on Workstep.

“…ESRA’s there for me” They provided funding for my training and gym membership. I am now a fully qualified instructor under the ITF, taekwondo’s official governing body. I still have bad days when I can’t deal with anything, but I know that if things get too much I can call on ESRA to get in touch with my boss. It’s great to know that ESRA’s there for me.

“…someone to believe in me” Things have really turned around for me. I have now opened two of my own taekwondo schools and have turned my hobby into a fulltime job – and I’m loving every minute of it. I also recently represented England at the taekwondo European Championships where I won silver! ESRA are also helping with the funding towards the World championships in Germany. A few years ago all this would have seemed impossible. I just needed someone to believe in me, and someone to help me back into work.

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