I have been employed by the Ridge for 1 month after completing a 3 month Certificate of Work Readiness (CoWR) in the Backlands Project.

I had a stroke 18 months ago whilst at work which left me with some cognitive and short term memory problems. Having a stroke is life changing as no one expects it to happen to them and in my case no reason, despite numerous tests have discovered as to why.

It was quite devastating the slow realisation that I would be unable to return to a job that I had been in for 14 years, it felt that my life was finished, I was worthless and the fact that my employer had been quite unsupportive during the time I was off did nothing to alter this view I had of myself.

My OT put me in touch with the disability advisor at the job centre who told me about the CoWR that the Ridge was running and I was fortunate that I was offered a place. The 3 week classroom based work was a reminder of the reasons as to why we do certain things in the workplace, things that are done automatically without thinking why we do them.

Doing gardening work 2 days with Max, out helping him with his private clients was interesting as he was many things to different people. The 2 days working in the Backlands was informative as well as being hard work physically and never for a moment did I think that at my age I would be finding out about and helping to build decking and other upcoming projects such as building a shed, polytunnel and all the other ideas that are being discussed to develop this into a useful community space.

Being an assistant gardener the work is quite physical but the atmosphere, working for the Ridge is relaxed and it has shown me that although there are some things that I may struggle with help is always available from my co workers.

I owe the Ridge a great deal; this job has given me back my self-respect and confidence and has shown that every person has something to offer and for that I am very grateful.