Before I started the Get on Track programme I found social and group situations very difficult and intimidating and was in therapy for anxiety. I knew I needed to take steps to address my anxiety and when Ansbury offered it as one of their available programmes, I said yes as I liked the idea of working with the athletes.

I’ve always enjoyed sport but taking part in team sports affected my anxiety as I’d be worried about letting other people down. I’ve also found it difficult to try new things in case I’m not good at them and people judge me.

Over the years I’ve had several jobs, but I feel held back by my anxiety and so I’m currently unemployed. I’m volunteering though once every few weeks at a County Park where I’m learning new skills such as dry-stone walling.

During the early part of the programme I often felt scared about coming to the sessions as I’m nervous about being around new people and situations. Everyone was really kind and supportive though and that helped me and because of this I wanted to keep trying new challenges and things I wasn’t good at. I really felt that the more I do it the easier it’s going to get.

Mentor Rich Parker said:

Sam she never backed away from giving something her best shot, even if it was something massively out of her comfort zone and that attitude won her a lot of respect from the rest of the group, as well as us athletes.

My athlete mentors, Rich, Liz and Dave were really supportive, helpful and patient. It was really good to hear their stories and the difficulties faced and all the ups and downs they had, instead of just the bits where it went well. I found that really relatable. The support of the group also helped me grow in confidence throughout the programme and I really enjoyed trying so many new sports and activities that I would never have thought of doing before.

I feel that social situations will be a lot easier now. I’ve gained a lot of confidence from fitting in with a group of people from very different backgrounds to me and really enjoyed being with the group. My confidence has grown with regards to physical activities too, I no longer feel scared to try new things, even if I’m not sure I’ll be any good at them beforehand.

Mentor Liz Johnson added:

Sam has been brilliant; she has a great attitude of facing her fears and not giving up. Not once over the whole programme has Sam stopped trying, no matter how difficult she found something. She was also a great influence on the rest of the group and showed real kindness and compassion.

Overall, I really enjoyed Get on Track, the athletes were so nice, they made it feel really open and friendly. It really made me see there are so many possibilities of what you can do. I feel more confident now and ready for a challenge so I want to see if I can take up a volunteering opportunity working as a peer support in therapy groups.

Face Forward is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the National Lottery Community Fund. Find out more about Face Forward.