What encouragement means to me:

To start with the facts, the name ‘Barnabas’ means “son of encouragement”, whereas St Barnabas was the Patron Saint of Encouragement. Encouragement epitomises the visions and values of HoSB or in the wider sense the spiritual foundations towards positive social change.

To make it more personal, ‘encouragement’ to me is literally what saved my life in all facets and, most importantly here at HoSB, is a continuation of my life recovery from what brought me to my knees in terms of drug and alcohol addiction, mental health breakdown, self isolation and homelessness; basically a breakdown of my physical and mental well-being.

For me, one of the solutions to homelessness is employment, which for me provides rhythm not routine, but before employment or indeed to reintegrate back into normal society comes a sense of spirituality. A friend of mine told me a story about PETS and ANTS, whereas the latter being an abbreviation for automatic negative thoughts and the former being positive affirmations. People are bombarded every day with negative thoughts, to what I call the “chaos of the mind” that may not bring any sense or realisation to everyday life. However, in order to attain self-actualisation or that gift of recovery, spirituality just means basic self-care, positive affirmations, such as writing on my bathroom mirror, “I am worth it”, something that needs to be reinforced daily as the negative can seem to stick to the mind, so in a sense a rewiring of the brain to start thinking positively. One of the daily activities I do, is a gratitude list, 10 points of the day, which I am very grateful for, turning a negative into a positive, for example, I wrote my life story, with the title “Grateful for my rock bottom”, I am grateful for my dark past, because it is this which has made me the person I am now, an appreciation for life, people and basic values and most importantly, hope. The phrase ‘one day at a time’ is something I live by, it’s OK to have a bad day with feelings and emotions that may run riot in the mind, immobilising you physically, but what is inspirational is to leave it in the previous day, a new day brings new fresh emotions and feelings to move forward, thus invoking a spiritual awakening, most simplistically, living in the present.

HoSB provides these essential tools to how to live life, cope with challenging situations, learning how to think positively to bring positive change to oneself, others and eventually bring an invaluable work skill, for when we eventually return to work. They provide us with the tools to be the best possible person we can be, through sessions like mindfulness, coping strategies to move forward and change, something to embrace, just like the caterpillar changing into a butterfly, it brings freedom of the so-called negative voice/mind. The key concepts to achieve enlightenment in my opinion, is the abbreviation HOW (Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness). In the same way, as myself being grateful for my rock bottom, I am very grateful to HoSB in providing encouragement and essential life skills to continue on with my recovery, both physically and mentally.