Stephen’s Story

I’ve had a roller coaster life. At 32 I owned 15 houses which I rented out. Then my wife told me she wanted a divorce. I developed a heart condition and was in bed with severe chest pain for a year and was advised by specialists that I was going to die soon. So, I ended up trying to recover my life from a situation where I should have been retired and sorted out for life but ended up finding myself homeless for a year.

When I was referred to CXK’s Bridge the Gap project in February 2022 by Ramsgate Jobcentre Plus, my confidence and personal circumstances were at their weakest. I have a range of disabilities including Autism, Asperges, Anxiety, Depression, CPC, Severe Back Pains, Arthritis and my heart condition – all of which now means I can no longer do most kinds of manual work.

My mentor gave me so much support. He arranged some counselling sessions for me and helped me work out a way forwards. We brainstormed potential job ideas and came up with the idea of a Locksmith. This made sense – there’s no heavy lifting and no requirement to have to get your body in to lots of awkward positions, like a plumber might need to for example. My mentor did all the research on what qualifications I’d need and where I could do the course, and what jobs would be available if I wanted to work for someone.

I went to Essex to do a 3-day Locksmith course, and everything was funded – the cost of the course and my travel expenses. It’s just life changing. I didn’t think such things were available for someone like me.

The next step is to start my own business and Bridge the Gap has even helped me with that as well, organising lots of online training courses, providing information on how to start a business, dealing with the tax. Bridge the Gap are also going to fund a substantial number of tools that I need to get going. So, a real headstart.

After I set up the business, as soon as possible I want to start employing other people and helping people in the same position as I’ve been in. My plan is for there to be five of us within 6 months to a year. So, not just one person will have a job – 6 will. Helping one person will have turned into bigger, better things.

CXK’s Bridge the Gap has completely transformed my life and given me a future. They have helped me all the way through and been incredible. I’ve got hope that I’ve got a much brighter future with a much better income, and something to keep my mind occupied. Pretty soon, my business will be up and running and it’ll be a whole different way of life for me. Watch this space!

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