After Andrew MacDonald was medically discharged from the army with a leg injury at just 21 he spent years struggling to come to terms with how much his injury was affecting his day to day life – at rock-bottom almost cutting his leg off with a kitchen knife. Andrew tells us more about his experience and how the Links project in Llanelli helped him to take back his life.
“I spent nearly a year as a hermit but I got my act together after friends got me out again and went to college to retrain, and eventually found a post with the college. I also met my future wife to be.
“Over the next ten years my leg continued to get worse and I again lost my job, I found it harder to find work or socialise with others. My moods started to affect my marriage and my bond with my children.
“Finally things came to a head and I hit crisis-point, this for me was very nearly removing my damaged leg with a kitchen knife. I remember sitting on the stairs at home, staring at the knife block and I only stopped myself from doing it when I saw a photograph of my children.
“Through the British Legion I was referred to Links. First impressions I was not sure how they could help me, but I was made to feel welcome, no one judged me or labelled me and stuck me in a room.
“There were other Ex-Forces people there and the old camaraderie and banter soon came back, and it felt safe to be there. I started to take Learn Direct courses to improve my computer skills and help out with NAAFI mornings, and if I had a problem with any forms for benefits someone made time to help me.
“I still need Links for my own health but am now helping others through the Combined Forces Telephone Buddies Scheme and I am also running Figure Painting courses, a hobby that has helped me with concentration, relaxation and distraction.
“It’s fantastic that Links is receiving Lottery money for this project to help people in similar situations that I’ve been in. My wife when asked recently how she thought Links had helped me, replied that had it not been for the continuing support from the staff and the encouragement to engage and become a volunteer, as a family we would be in a very different and difficult situation.”
The National Lottery Community Fund recently awarded Links in Llanelli £418,241 as part of the People and Places programme.
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