I received the invitation to join Innovation Labs in 2010 when I had extremely low self-esteem and had just moved out of the family home into a town where I knew no one. Filling in the application form was a huge challenge as I thought very little of myself. I was not ‘’exciting’’ enough to get into a project that was so good. When I received the email to say that I had been accepted I was so excited.
I applied to the project because it is something I have always wanted to get involved in. It was something that would help people like me. When I lived at home my mum refused to take me to appointments with the psychiatrist and psychologists. By the time I was old enough to take myself the damage had already been done and I didn’t have very long to correct it. If I had things like apps on my mobile phone I could have used those and maybe been less of a wreck than I was at the age of 18. I was in and out of hospital nearly every weekend having done something to harm myself, I was in supported housing and been threatened with being kicked out because I was too ‘’high risk’’ .
Throughout therapy I used the method of journaling but this proved to be too indiscreet. One day my mum found it and read everything. That turned onto an argument and I got really distressed. Two weeks later I was in hospital from a suicide attempt. Then she kicked me out and I never went back. Moving out of there was the best thing I ever did. Had I stayed I would have never taken part in volunteering or Innovation Labs. I would have never gained the confidence or the ability to believe in myself and pass that onto other people.
I have stayed involved in the Labs project because it is something that I have grown to enjoy taking part of. The people are great, the idea is fantastic and it is something that I can genuinely get focused on. I have loved every minute of phase 1 through to phase 2 and being part of the Project Board has made me feel like I can keep contributing to a worthwhile project. Being part of this project has given me hope, optimism and today I have a positive attitude towards life.
Young people are always going to be the centre of this project and I think that is a very important aspect that a lot of people forget about when developing these types of things. Young people and professionals and carers around them can all benefit from this and that is ultimately what Innovation Labs are trying to do. I feel that once the products are built then a lot of young people will be able to access more support and advice than what they were able to before. Simply because it is young person friendly.