Michael’s story

50 Lives Michael

Through our Recovery College in West London, Michael has found somewhere to socialise and learn new skills. He has been taking part in art activities and has learned new computer skills through our IT course, which has enabled him to publish his own poetry book online. This is his story.

I used to live in a mental health hostel run by my local council. After three years of waiting, I moved into my own flat last year – it was a great feeling. Before, I found that once I settled in somewhere, I would have to move again but now it’s much better. I have a lot more stability.

After a couple of months of being in my flat, I was referred by the council to Hestia and they told me about the St Mungo’s Recovery College. At first, it was just something that helped me to get out the house and meet people.

In the past, I’ve lived in a flat by myself and had nowhere to go. I was always by myself. When I did interact with people it was strange for me. I wasn’t used to it. I wasn’t set into that rhythm of talking to people and being involved. But since coming here, I do feel involved.

I’m interacting with people. I can understand people. I feel much better. There’s all walks of life here – we’re all one big happy family and we all get along.

The Recovery College has it all, I love it. It has IT and art courses. I’ve done batik art, which I’d never done before. You dye colours on a cloth, wax it, iron it and you take it to the dry cleaners. They clean it up for you and you have a batik painting. The art teacher is really great.

Eileen, a Recovery College Worker, suggested that I do the beginners IT course. Before, I only knew how to switch computers on and off, that was about it. Through the course, I learned how to use email, Google Chrome and the basics of using an email.

Now, I’m doing the next level class with two people from the Digital Inclusion team who are both brilliant with computers. I didn’t know anything about the internet but now, with their help, I’ve self published two of my own poetry book online using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and I have a blog too. It was the first time that they’d tried publishing a book online, but they were still able to help me do it – they were amazing. I was so impressed.

I’ve been writing poetry for 20 years. When I write, it comes from nothing. It’s pen to paper, I write and it comes out. I read it back and I think there’s something going on and it’s really exciting. People like my work – they often read it and pick out a line that they like.

Going forward, I’d love to make some money from my book. I know it won’t happen overnight – I’m a new writer and it takes time.

I also want to continue coming to St Mungo’s. Eileen is the best. She’s so patient, but if there’s something wrong she will say it. She always comes out with stuff that I find inspiring.

Before coming here, I would have panic attacks and worry. People would talk to me and I just wouldn’t be able to pay attention, I’d drift. I often feel pressure in just trying to be. But I’ve made a lot of new friends and have a better head now I think.

Learning these digital skills and publishing my book has happened so fast since October 2018, when I first came to the Recovery College. My life is now in motion, and it’s good.

Looking to the future, I want to attending a music college and I’m planning on promoting my book at the client festival this year.

Our 50 year history is filled with some extraordinary people. To mark our anniversary, we will be profiling 50 Lives throughout 2019 – a snapshot of those who have played their part in our story. You can read the stories on our website at www.mungos.org/50-lives.