In the west of the city, the Belfast Works LEMIS+ Project has been working in partnership to help people overcome their barriers to getting employment. Seamus, a 54 year old father of five from west Belfast, has been attending the LEMIS+ Project through Belfast Works partner Job Assist Centre West Belfast. He shares his story with us here:  
 
“I have lived in the west of the city all my life. I’ve seen many changes in the area and surrounding areas including people’s views, hopes and expectations for life and what it has to offer. My background was simple but strict when I was growing up. My siblings and I were never allowed to throw the towel in or give up on things easily and we were never to ask for or expect anything for nothing. I came from a caring and sharing family, strict as I mentioned, but a level of discipline was paramount while being a runny-nosed west Belfast kid kicking a ball through the streets of my estate, and it all helped build me into the man I am today. 
 
“I love the city and always have done, even when times were bad to say the least. I worked for many years at sea, starting on an oil tanker, then two passenger liners, finishing off on the cross channel ferries. These were the most exciting moments off my life - working at sea and experiencing the various cultures, sampling the different foods, I could go on and on. Then my children were growing up and I did not want to miss the important parts in their young lives, so I took redundancy and decided to take a break from any type of work to play catch up with my whole family. It was great to be able to give them the best chance in their lives to find work, friends and happiness. 
 
“But then after being unemployed for years, depression was out for revenge. It had been dormant for a long time so it had a lot of catching up to do. I was going a number of days without sleep, most food tasted like cardboard and I spent days upon days - sometimes weeks - living like a hermit up in the attic not wanting nor wishing to speak to anyone in fear of bringing them down with me." 
“I felt that a return to work might help me focus as I missed the many various challenges that some jobs can test you with. Most of all I was tired of looking at the same four walls and wanted to regain my independence. 
 
“Shortly after registering with the LEMIS+ Project through Job Assist west Belfast at USDT, my mentor Aisling contacted me to see if I would be interested in attending a personal development course. Initially I was kind of taken aback, thinking to myself that I'm as confident as I can be, and have ever been - what else can I improve on? Like anyone, I might get fed up and depressed at times but I always pull through, so I wondered how this course could do anything for me. How wrong I was... 
 
“Emalyn, the personal development tutor, made each of us feel part of something and encouraged debate within the group. Her relaxed approach, warmness and manner was amazing and the whole experience did not feel like a typical classroom environment. 
 
“It helped me in many, many areas of my life. Some of my traits have been both sharpened and enhanced, such as patience, understanding and more empathy for others. My confidence has been brought to a new level. Having said this some areas in my life haven’t changed, including my aims, objectives and goals, although I have learnt to do them at a more appropriate pace for me. I am also much more relaxed and at ease with myself, which something I have not been for a long time. I am able to assess situations better so that I’m able to approach them with the correct attitude and get the best outcome for me. 
 
“I am less negative than I previously was – a few months ago I would not have even applied for a job but after the personal development I have the drive and incentive to ‘get off my lazy butt’ and go job prospecting. I now know what job I would love to do and the passion to do it is growing. 
 
“I highly recommend the personal development course to anyone who may be in need of a bit of direction – anyone who does it will be pleasantly surprised and in receipt of some valuable life changing tools. 
 
“I changed so much both during and after the course. Granted, I still have a few areas that need some TLC but I know I will cross that line and give myself a big slap on the back when I achieve them. Deep down in my heart of hearts I can say with conviction that I'm much more at peace with myself and extremely happy to be the person than I am.” 
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