A former homeless man’s hope of becoming a referee is within reach as he has been pulled out of depression by Opportunity Club, a vital support provider. Shane Baker, 32, benefited from Opportunity Club’s football and activity engagement to build his stakes of becoming a referee.
The club helps vulnerable people including those who are homeless and with mental health needs.
According to Shane, “I became isolated from my friends, family and society itself. I was very alienated and by the third time I was homeless for a few days I got in touch with the YMCA, but they were unable to take me on because of my additional needs.
“That was a bit of dent in my confidence but with the help of my ex-partner I had a talk with Exeter City Council. They were not able to find anywhere for me so I was put in touch with the Amber Foundation, and they gave me a place in September 2015.”
It was at the Amber foundation that Shane developed a passion for fitness and coaching. Shane speaks further, “It was a very isolated place which is very important for people who have mental health issues, drug use and bereavement.
“You get all sorts of different characters and I have always been one to keep to myself which is why I made a success of the programme they offered me.
“It took me four months to detox and knowing what I do now I wish I had never gone down that road.
“But at the end of it I was sleeping and eating better and the environment I was in helped me rebuild my self-esteem and confidence, and also my people skills.
“By the end of the programme I had saved enough for a fitness instructor course, a level one football coaching course which City Community Trust put half towards, and a housing deposit.”
Shane is presently a part-time coach for the trust and Co-op. His life has improved significantly. According to Shane, “Life is now a million times better than it was. Before my mum’s death I was content and happy, but now I’m doing so much amazing stuff which is unbelievable.
“Without the Amber Foundation I would not have saved the money I did and have the qualifications I have, and the trust has given me some really good experiences.
“Life is still a challenge because I’m signed off sick at the moment as I have been diagnosed with potential chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME.
“But my depression and anxiety has subsided knowing what I’m doing with the trust.”