Video: Mindwise making a difference to lives across Mid Ulster

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Two men who were helped through their darkest days by Mindwise, have credited the charity with turning their lives completely around, and are now urging others to make the same call that saved them.

Dean Shannon and Karl Nicholls have both been refurbishing furniture and working towards horticulture qualifications for a number of years through the group’s Magherafelt workshop.

Mindwise manager Paddy Murtagh with some of the team at Magherafelt

Mindwise manager Paddy Murtagh with some of the team at Magherafelt

Dean, 29, from Cookstown, told the Mail he first began working with Mindwise over 10 years ago, but at the age of 19, he describes a far different person than the one sitting across from our reporter today.

“I lost confidence and my self esteem,” he said. “I’d avoid talking to people and had my head down all the time.

“I had stopped talking to friends and I spent most of my time in the house... but I didn’t know what was wrong.

“I went to see the doctor then, and he decided to put me on medication, and I was referred to here and the Beacon Centre in Cookstown.”

After his referral, Dean said: “I came here and started interacting with people again and made really, really good friends through it all, and [got] support.

“Everybody is in the same boat, so they can relate to each other, then it became my safe haven and [now] I enjoy getting up in the mornings to come down.”

But Dean said it hasn’t always been as easy for him, as it is now: “At the start I was very tired all the time, but after a few years I came round more, and more.

“And then when horticulture started three years ago... we had a personal development course running alongside it and it picked up my confidence, and I started to enjoy getting up in the mornings to come down.”

Castledawson-based Karl, 30, who has been attending Mindwise for five years, also tells a similar story.

But he told the Mail the charity not only changed his life - but saved it.

“I was very down, I was self-harming,” he said, “I had suicidal thoughts and didn’t know where I was at to be honest.

“If it wasn’t for Mindwise I don’t think I would be here today.

“My self-confidence was low, and it’s sky high now - so I have decided to volunteer in a different environment and I work in the Macmillan Cancer Unit in Antrim one day a week - I meet and greet the families.

But, “before I started with Mindwise,” he added: “I couldn’t plan one day to the next.

“I could only concentrate on that one day because I didn’t know if I was going to be here the next day or not.

“But now I can just get up in the morning, and I thank God that I am here - and then I come to Mindwise.”

“I would just like to thank Mindwise for giving me this opportunity,” he went on, “and for changing my life so I can go on and help change other people lives.”

Both men, through Mindwise have made remarkable changes in their lives, and because of that, said they now hope to give something back.

While Dean has now come full circle with the Magherafelt charity, is teaching and helping others to change their lives, Karl said it has given him the confidence to volunteer with cancer patients and their families.

For more information on Mindwise and the fantastic work they do, email paddy.murtagh@mindwisenv.org