Craig made the decision to leave the Army as he had recently married and felt that being in the Army may not be conducive to a happy family life due to the regular deployments and time that would need to be spent away from home.
After leaving the Army Craig spent several years installing cable TV and telephone communications. He also worked in the plastics industry; however the company moved their business overseas which resulted in Craig losing his job. In 2004/05 Craig’s marriage came to an end.
Craig spent a few years working for a national supermarket retailer as a team leader and was responsible for a team of 24 drivers who delivered on-line groceries in Hertfordshire. He enjoyed this role but the target-driven nature of the job resulted in him working up to 7 days per week which began to affect his well-being so Craig made the decision to leave.
In early 2015 Craig passed his PSV/coach licence and began driving coaches for a local coach company in Sandhurst. Craig enjoyed the driving as he felt as though he was ‘his own boss’ but found the job less enjoyable when not driving.
During 2015 Craig’s mental health began to deteriorate, and he admits to being in denial. This resulted in a relationship breakdown with his then partner. Subsequently, Craig ‘disappeared’ and was placed on the Missing Persons register. He spent his time living in a tent but it did not occur to him that this was not ‘normal’ behaviour. Following a chance meeting with a friend, who encouraged Craig to seek help, Craig was referred to SPACES, which is an organisation that supports single ex-service personnel who are at risk of homelessness with accommodation needs. As a result, Craig was offered a place at Mike Jackson House (MJH) in Aldershot. Mike Jackson House is a residence that provides independent accommodation and support for ex-service personnel who find themselves homeless.
Part of this support is access to a Walking With The Wounded Employment Advisor based at the residence.
Craig’s Employment Advisor, Alex, has been supporting him with 1:1 IT sessions to improve Craig’s skills ahead of attending an IT course which Craig passed at a very high level.
To help develop Craig’s skills he was actively involved in the administration and planning of MJH’s participation in Walking With The Wounded’s 2016 Cumbrian Challenge event. This involved producing a PowerPoint presentation, revising and preparing the teams’ kit list and supporting Alex with other administrative tasks. Craig was also responsible for collecting the mini-bus (courtesy of Riverside) to transport the team to Cumbria, which resulted in Craig driving 1200 miles over the period of the challenge.
Craig is receiving support from statutory services for his mental well-being. He is also receiving support from a Speech & Language Therapist for a childhood stammer which returned when his mental health difficulties escalated. This support has helped him manage this. Of his therapist Craig said “she is fantastic and has taught me breathing techniques that help me out when I feel under pressure”. Craig said that in October 2015 he couldn’t hold a full conversation with anyone but now he feels much better, and whilst he finds this frustrating at times, he is able to manage his stammer by using these breathing techniques.
Whilst at Mike Jackson House Craig has attended an introduction to mountain skills adventure training course run by Adventure Quest UK.
As a result of attending the course Craig is exploring employment opportunities that involve working outdoors. Craig is also exploring voluntary work options with his WWTW Employment Advisor as he is interested in supporting the Cadets or the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme.
Craig hopes that his love of the outdoors will lead to a career that incorporates this passion. He feels happy, relaxed and stress free when working outdoors.
Craig said he is feeling very positive at the moment.
Craig said “I don’t know where I would be without the support I have received. I hold Mike Jackson House in the highest esteem.”
Craig said that the support he has received from WWTW has improved his confidence ‘ten-fold’. He has been given opportunities to be part of a team but is also able to develop his skills as an individual.
Craig said “I feel I have been given a purpose and some of the opportunities have been amazing.”