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A mental health survivor who battled with suicidal thoughts as a teenager has praised the “life-changing” support he received at Northampton College which has helped him get his life on track.

Sam Ford, was devasted by the death of his uncle in 2014. Unable to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety, things spiralled out of control and aged just 13 he considered taking his own life.

He said: “I hated school and wanted to drop out in Year 9. The years between Year 9 and 11 were very difficult for me, I just didn’t want to be here, I couldn’t see a way out of the situation and I wanted to commit suicide, I just couldn’t cope.”

In 2017 his aunt encouraged him to enquire about joining a course at Northampton College and following an initial visit he embarked on a Childcare course supported by an Education and Healthcare Plan (EHCP).

He added: “My aunt told me about the college courses and on my first ever visit I filled out the forms and told them I had mental health problems. Immediately I was given support and a person to contact.

“Suffering from stress and anxiety, I don’t cope very well with new situations. If I’ve done something wrong I panic and if I get stressed I can have a panic attack but because I spoke out and told them, I received one-to-one support and it has been life-changing.

“Knowing I could go outside with my support worker and talk through things helped me to calm down, refocus and because the support was always there things began to improve and I learnt how to cope better.”

Sam was supported with his learning, helped with maths tuition and provided with general support to help him manage assignments at college.

He added: “Over the last three years at college my mental health has massively improved, at first I would come out of the lessons and go to Jenny, my support worker, but because of the regular help I received I learnt how to cope and no longer had to leave the lessons. This taught me really good skills for life.”

At the start of November Sam successfully applied for a place on MENCAP’s Traineeship Programme, which supports young people aged between 19 and 24 with a learning disability or autism, to develop the skills and experience needed to find a job.

Sam gained successful employment at Clipper Logistics in Northampton.

He said: “I really don’t think I would have got this MENCAP training without the help of the college so my advice to people is not to be afraid or scared to tell someone about your difficulties, don’t let it put you off starting something new. Two weeks ago I had a panic attack at work, because the bus was running late so I told one of my managers and they arranged for me to speak to the mental health first aider.

“Because I spoke out and told the college how I was feeling I was given support to make a success of things and has helped me to reach the point I am at now – which is amazing when I think of how far I’ve come.”

Principal of Northampton College, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said: “Northampton College is committed to enriching the lives of our students, helping them to achieve their potential through learning. Our students are treated as individuals, with tailor-made study programmes bringing out the best in their ability and it is so pleasing to see Sam’s progress. He is carving out a successful future for himself.”