Matt Lewis is living with schizophrenia. One in a hundred people suffer with schizophrenia at some time in their lives and one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year (mind.org.uk).
Matt’s past lifestyle when he was dependent on drugs may have contributed to his mental ill health and schizophrenia causes a range of different psychological symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, delusions and other changes in behaviour.
When he first came to Thrive two years ago he wasn’t sure that it was the place for him…but that soon changed.
With his schizophrenia under control with medication, he has found a new love of the outdoors.
"Thrive has given me structure in my life and I love coming here," he said.
"I was never really that interested in gardening, but it is great and I have learnt so much.
"Being outdoors for most of the day makes me feel good, I enjoy everything we do and go home feeling happy. I also sleep well at night.
"Everyone at Thrive is really friendly and I’ve met some nice people."
After being at Thrive for just over a year, his new found confidence was soaring and Matt responded to an advert in the local paper which was looking for volunteers at a National Trust property.
After meeting the staff he was offered a day’s voluntary work every week and uses his new skills honed at Thrive to garden at Nuffield Place and carry out general maintenance.
"Two years ago when I started at Thrive, I was in a completely different place. I never imagined that I would be enjoying gardening and the outdoors so much, or even doing a qualification."
Matt is currently working towards an Level 1 qualification in horticulture and once he has achieved this his goal is to get some paid work.
"Getting this qualification will really help me find paid work. I really want to stay doing gardening or something outdoors, but I would also visit a temping agency to get anything.
"I have learned to take things once step at a time and being at Thrive has really worked out well for me."
Matt’s initiative with the National Trust look set to pay dividends for Thrive too. It looks likely that the charity will be able to take a group there to work in the gardens – something that may never have happened without Matt.
Thank you for caring.