The following case study has been co-produced with Paul, who is currently coming towards the end of his support. We have written this report as a celebration of the progress at Knowsley Moving Forward Together.

Paul wanted to engage socially with people from the start of his support from Knowsley Moving Forward Together, but he recounted that when he first came, he was quite withdrawn and preferred only to give one-word answers to questions. However, after receiving encouraging support from his 1:2:1 support staff, Paul gained the confidence to speak more during his sessions and began attending the weekly group sessions. At first Paul says he did not engage much but, as with his sessions, he was able to increase his involvement gradually and show more of his ‘true self’ during the groups.

Paul and I both recognise that since attending the groups he has made massive progress which is worth celebrating. He has been a regular attendee of all the groups run at Knowsley Moving Forward Together, attending most weeks whatever the topic or activity. During Paul’s participation he has had the opportunity to interact with both staff and service users and has made a lasting impression on all due to his generous and light-hearted personality. It has been noted by staff that Paul has been able to grow in comfort within the groups and built up his ability to bring comedy into his interactions, often quick to say something to lighten the mood or add a smile to someone's day. He has made himself a positive acquaintance to all and a truly valued member of the group. His jokes and unique ‘cheekiness’ will no doubt be greatly missed.

During the Relation and Creativity groups, Paul says he really enjoyed doing the craft activities, and his favourite were the circle collages which he now keeps up on his wall at home (see photo). He reflected that he’s tried new things that otherwise he may not have been able to, like glass painting and mask making. He also said he would not have thought that he would like to sit and paint, but that he just wanted to do all the activities to join in and be part of it and has ended up enjoying it. Even with the activities that Paul found challenging, such as the upside-down drawing and scrabble Paul showed willing to give them a go and was importantly able to ask for and receive support when required. Paul also was wonderfully able to engage their own creativity to further an activity to create short films out of clay models made during a group, this showed great imagination and brought joy to all those he shared his creations with.

Paul has also shown impressive qualities of open mindedness by trying new activities in the Activity Group such as chair yoga. Despite only having previously done yoga once in the past (and deciding not to continue) they happily gave chair yoga a go and moreover report they want to continue this in the future. He has also been able to explore the local area, including the gardens and a local community café during our walks around Huyton. Additionally, he showed great people skills interacting with anyone the group spoke to such as the staff at Innovate and gardeners.

"I'm so grateful to everyone for everything"

During the Skills for Life Group Paul feels they have been able to listen to the situations of others and offer friendly support when appropriate because they have understood the things that have helped them. This shows a fantastic ability to empathise and problem solve which was always offered to others in a friendly manner. He has also been able to develop reflectivity around how he conducts himself in group settings and appropriate ways to speak to others in professional environments. Paul is aware that he also now uses all these interpersonal skills in the other men’s groups he attends and I’ve little doubt that this warmth shown by Paul to others within the groups here has been a strong factor as to why a number of our clients now attend the same community groups as he does. Paul also feels that his time at the Skills for Life Groups has been a valuable opportunity to reflect on himself as a person, his goals, and his coping skills. He has repeatedly shared strong life skills which positively support himself such as being able to ‘open up’ to people and express how he is feeling and making sure he spends time in the environments that nourish him such as the beach. By sharing himself in the way that he has done, Paul has again gone to great lengths to give support and hope to those around him.

Furthermore, it is fantastic hearing of all the ways that Paul now gives his time, energy and bright personality to the community centres and organisations within his local community. He is known to drive, dress up and help at a range of events, making him a much appreciated and respected member of the wider community. He approaches these roles with confidence and humility, always wanting to brighten someone else’s day, “It doesn’t cost you anything to smile” he says! This being said, one of the biggest achievements Paul feels he has made is by putting himself first, which we acknowledge needs to go hand in hand with all the amazing things that he does. Paul says that they realise that for the good of himself, and the people he can support, it requires him to look after himself first.

In summary, both Paul and I acknowledged many positive achievements and progress that have been made throughout Paul’s time at the groups within Knowsley Moving Forward Together. He has been a welcomed presence both in the groups as well as within the social space of Old School House and his ability to build positive relationships with staff (including those in the reception), other members of the group and most importantly with himself has been exemplary.

Paul is now able to look forward positively towards his role within the men’s group and related facilitating and possible volunteering opportunities as well as moving on to the drop-in group as a way of staying connected to the sessions at Old School House and continuing the positive relationships he has built.