Phil Jones, 67, has been a part of mental health and wellbeing charity Advance Brighter Futures (ABF) for many years now. Anyone who has visited the ABF building on Belmont Road will have likely seen Phil’s friendly face and had a warm greeting from him.
Phil is fully part of the ABF furniture, so to speak. But his first introduction to the charity came at a really low point in his life when he was experiencing severe anxiety. By chance his wife spotted a poster in a paper shop, which then led Phil on an incredible journey with the charity.
Phil told us: “My wife had seen a poster in our local paper shop for some relaxation sessions at Rhosemedre Church. She said I should go along to it to see how I got on. At this point I hadn’t been out of the house for six months due to my severe anxiety. I asked my psychiatrist to refer me to the sessions and that’s how my journey with ABF started.”
This was a big step forward for Phil, and he wants to encourage others who may be needing support to ask for help, saying: “Anyone struggling with their mental health should go to their GP as the first step. When you’re low this isn’t an easy thing to do, but there’s help out there for everyone.”
Phil continued to access ABF’s services over the coming months, but also began volunteering for the charity: “Because of how well I’d been treated by everyone I started volunteering. I wanted to give back basically. I did a bit of everything; I cut the hedges, cut the lawn, helped out clearing things from the cellar, and I even knocked a wall down for them. I was there near enough every day.”
“I became a Trustee and never looked back”
Phil fully embraced himself in the charity and was encouraged to think about becoming a Trustee: “I got to know everyone at the charity and to me everyone was my mate. I was pals with everyone even though I was one of the oldest. About six months after I started volunteering, I became a Trustee and I’ve never looked back.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Phil has had to get used to performing his role in a different way, which has been challenging at times: “The worst part has been not being able to go to the building. I was doing a lot of fundraising, and this was becoming much harder to do.”
It was arranged for Phil to borrow an iPad to help him keep up to date with the charity from home. The iPad was purchased from the Community Inclusion Grant administered by Wrexham Council to ensure those who were shielding or at risk of loneliness and isolation had the opportunity to keep in touch digitally.
Phil explained: “I’ve had to get used to using Zoom to stay involved with the charity, which meant getting to grips with the iPad. I’d never used one before, but now I can video call people in the charity and it’s really helped. I struggled a bit at the start, but with some support and patience I can now get about on it and do the different things I need to do. I’m very thankful they took the time to show me everything to keep me involved.”
“A massive part of my life”
As he reflects on his relationship with the charity, he told us: “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without ABF. It’s still a massive part of my life. It’s a fantastic place, and it’s been a fantastic place for a lot of people, not just me.
“Anyone who may be reading this and is thinking of getting involved with ABF definitely should. Without places like ABF people wouldn’t get the support they need. I’ve met so many nice people along the way, and it’s really helped me. And now I get to help others, and what’s better than that?”
If you’d like to find out about what support is available at Advance Brighter Futures, please call 01978 364777 or email email@example.com
You can also learn more about the services on offer here: www.advancebrighterfutureswrexham.co.uk