For Ashleigh, joining Link Up’s North West Archery Club in 2015 was the spark for a period of remarkable change for her; one which has given her, perhaps for the first time in her life, a sense of direction and purpose.
Ashleigh was a young carer for various members of her family throughout her childhood and early adolescence and severely bullied at school. As a result, she left school with “no qualifications, no experience, and zero confidence in myself or my abilities”.
Now in her thirties, Ashleigh has lived with severe depression for most of her life. She was diagnosed as having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at 14 years old and, in 2012, a condition known as Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder, believed to be the brain’s response to overwhelming stress.
Joining the Archery Club was a significant milestone for Ashleigh. “It was very difficult and scary for me as I hadn’t socialised properly in longer than I could recall.” However, the welcoming environment and support from her husband and the Link Up worker meant she was soon attending on her own. She even became club secretary.
The impact of this was material: “I felt like for the first time in a long time, my depression wasn’t going to hold me back, my confidence was growing, my seizures reduced, and I had support from people other than my family.”
Ashleigh’s sense of personal control continued to increase. Supported by Link Up, she went on to complete training in Archery Coaching, Child Protection, Mediation and Conflict Resolution and gain a REHIS certificate for Kitchen Food and Safety Hygiene. This encouraged her to get her Personal Bar Licence enabling her to get her “first proper job and first ever payslip”.
Ashleigh’s belief in herself and what she is capable of achieving continues to help her through her bad spells. It has also been instrumental in giving her a renewed purpose. Her graduation from Glasgow University’s Activate community development course in 2018 is testament to this.
It has enabled her to access an HNC Working with Communities course at Ayrshire College and she is applying to the University of the West of Scotland to do an Honours degree in Community Education.
You can find Ashleigh’s case study in our recent document, Link Up: Flourishing Communities
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