John, who is 62 and from Woolton, was referred through his psychologist. He’s been having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for a while to help him overcome some mental health challenges.
John said: “I thought it would be a different route to getting some support and learning new things. Tony from Imagine rang me and we had a chat so he could find out what I’m interested in.
“I did a computer course which taught me some new skills, like using Zoom. After that I wanted to do something with a bit more interaction and to meet people to talk to.”
John has a background as a landscape gardener and has done some voluntary gardening work too, so Tony thought he might be interested in doing a course in bee-keeping.
John said: “He phoned me and told me about his idea - I thought why not?
“I go to the class once a week and it’s been really interesting. We’ve been starting to build hives and learning about how to keep the bees healthy.
“I’ve met some new people who I get on with. I’m an inquisitive person and I love talking to people and finding out about them. I love football and cycling and there are a few people with similar interests. It’s a social thing to do and it’s helped my mental health.”
John has a weekly call with Tony for general support. He added: “It’s a friendly voice and he’s easy to talk to. We’ve been looking at other courses I might be able to start, like resilience.
“Imagine are very relaxed and easy going, and they’re there to help and support people. I’ve not worked for eight years but I feel I have a lot to offer and it’s my goal to become employed again. Imagine are helping me on my way with that.”
Tony Fiori, Imagine Project Facilitator, added: “I have been working with John on improving his digital skills and through our discussions, John told me that he has volunteered with a gardening group and is interested in outdoor activities.
“When I saw the opportunity arise for a bee-keeping course, I immediately thought of John. The course is hands-on and interactive, and for men aged 50+ with who have experienced recent mental health difficulties. John has told me that it is very enjoyable and he has learnt a lot on a subject he did not know he was interested in.
“Older men in particular can sometimes find it difficult to talk about mental health and courses like this one give men a chance to discuss their feelings and learn a new activity at the same time.”