Changing Lives… Meet Nick

Nicholas Jones

Nick had previously been homeless and addicted to alcohol – he started drinking when he was 10 years old. Nick has also had bouts of depression for 20 years. Nick has a criminal record and says this was always linked to getting money for alcohol. Nick previously lived in Wolverhampton. He had always gone to work but found the constant pressure to hit sales targets extremely stressful – to the point that he would wake up in the night thinking he was having a heart attack. He had a few jobs after this but has been out of work for a while.

He got to the stage where his depression was so bad, he was worried he would take an overdose. He didn’t go out of his house or talk to people, and put on lots of weight. He felt he desperately needed to get away. He packed two bags, a fishing rod and left for a new life in Plymouth. He spent his first night sleeping rough overlooking the sea. He got support from Shekinah and Restart, and was helped to get a “little room”. He also received support from Hamoaze House for which he is very grateful. He says when he arrived in Plymouth he was “really, really ill”.

Nick had been an angler since he was seven years old. It is his passion. Nick says, “If I can’t go fishing, I haven’t got a life”. Nick has come such an incredibly long way since then.

He is now setting up his own business – ‘Angling for Wellbeing’. He is now a specialist provider offering angling training and therapy to other people. He is going to promote his business to Pluss, other service providers and corporate businesses. His long-term goal is to get funding so that he can offer his service to anyone.

Nick says, “I want to get the people of Plymouth interested in fishing and I want to help people who suffer with anxiety and depression – because I have suffered with it and still do. Angling can be wonderful therapy for people that struggle with mental health conditions. Your brain gets clogged up with so much information, conversations, news etc. – when you fish, your problems float away and you can think with a clear mind. It’s a green space activity which is good for mental health. It really is!

Nick says “I’ve got a Level Two Angling Coaching certificate. I met with my Change Coach and they helped me to get my license which was a bit tricky because of my criminal record. But I have it now and it means I can coach people to be competent anglers and make sure that the fish do not get harmed”. “I will be doing it on a permitted work basis and try to get funding as a service provider. I’m DBS checked, Pluss have paid for the fishing tackle. “I’ve been on a self-employment course. I have seen the marketing and branding people. I am waiting to meet the website company. I have a logo, business cards, banner and leaflets. I’m near enough ready to go. “I’ve done a health and safety course, first aid course and safeguarding course. I have done digital skills so I can do business plans, cashflow forecasts and presentations.”

“My change Coach helped me to apply to the environment agency for a block licence. They’ve also granted me a ‘Worthy Cause’ license which means I can take up to 10 people fishing with it. “I haven’t got to quite where I want to go, but I am a good three quarters of the way there. I am going to do another couple of courses – Cast Award training and Fly fishing as an add-on on my license. I also am going to do mental health first aid training.” “I now promote your programmes to get people to come fishing through it.”

After eight different addresses in two years, Nick now has his own flat. He is in the process of setting up his own business in angling which is his lifelong passion. He hasn’t had an alcoholic drink for two and a half years. He has also been on a diet for five months and lost 18 kilogrammes. Nick says, “Helping other people will help me. It will give me self-worth. It makes me feel happier that I am helping others.” “My life has changed, my depression has lifted, I’ve had some good times in my life but they’ve always been associated with drink. Now I have periods of happiness and it is true happiness. It actually hurts. I struggle with this but my doctor says I should try to enjoy it and be happy.”

“When I visit Hamoaze House now I feel my problems are nothing compared to others.”