I lived in Wales until I was seven. I really loved my primary school here and I had loads of friends and was really popular. My mum used to tell me my friends would run up to her and say “You’re Lachlan’s mum aren’t you?” and that made me feel good.

As a family, we moved to Australia when I was seven and lived out there for some years. We moved around a lot and I was always quite shy when I first met people but, again, I fit into my primary school and had loads of friends, so things were good.

We moved back to Wales after Mum and Dad split up. My dad stayed in Australia and still lives there now. I did find the move hard. It ended up taking a long time to enrol me in high school, so I ended up joining school late into Year 7.

In Year 8, the bullying started. It really brought my confidence down. The bullies once spread butter over everything in my school bag and another time one guy pushed me so hard in the back I couldn’t breathe properly. I really struggled and so ended up moving to another school.

The new school was okay but it was still hard. I used to cry in the mornings because I couldn’t face going in. I still always got good grades in everything but I always felt so depressed and down and wanted to stay in my bed all day. I was so sad and lonely.

I ended up getting into video games and playing on my X-box more and more, where I met nice people. I made the decision to stop going to school and home-schooled myself, which pretty much shut me away from the outside world entirely. I’d walk to the shops occasionally but that was as far as I’d go.

At the time, my mum was receiving support from Ceri at Llamau who suggested Rhodri could come out to visit me and see whether there was any support he could offer. I said yes to Rod visiting but because I was so nervous, I’d hide in my room every time he came round.

For about three or four months, Rod would talk to me through my bedroom door. I don’t think I ever spoke back to him. I’d just sit and listen quietly. Rod used to slip notes under my door with questions like “Would you like my support? Circle yes or no.” I did want his help but I was really nervous. I’d circle my answer and give it to my mum when Rod had left the house. It made things a lot easier for me to start with than talking face to face. It really helped just knowing Rod was there.

One day I decided to come out of my room and meet Rod. We did a lot of things that helped me open up to Rod. We went to the snooker hall and golf range, the cinema sometimes, but mostly we’d go outside walking and just talk about the things I was into, what I liked to do and what I wanted to do. Rod started looking into different paths I could take, mainly to do with computers really because that’s what I’m into.

We looked at an IT course at college first. Rod helped me see my options. I didn’t realise I had so many so I felt very relieved, surprised and happy. You just don’t think you have options when you don’t have GCSEs.

Last year, I completed an access course in a small class. Rod came with me on my first day and helped me sort things like my bus pass and EMA. He also arranged for me to meet the course tutor to help me with my anxiety. It was a good way for me to get back into learning.

College is very different to school. The people are there because they want to learn about IT and not because they’re being forced. I’ve met my two closest friends there and we socialise together and have lots in common.

After completing the course I’m studying now, I’ll move onto my Level 3 in computers and from there I could go on to university. I’m not entirely sure what I want next but I’ve been thinking more about Uni now. At first I didn’t think I could do it but thanks to my time in college, my confidence has gone up a lot.

I’m really not sure where I’d be if Rod hadn’t helped me when he did. I don’t want to say I’d still be in the same place I was before, but I’m not sure. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now. What I will say is it’s nice to not feel pointless anymore!

A message from EMPHASIS Worker, Rhodri:

“When I first went out to visit Lachlan and he’d hide away in his room, I just wanted to let him know how I could potentially help him and that I wasn’t going to force him to do anything. At times when I’d speak to him through the door I had no idea whether he was listening to me or not but I didn’t want to give up trying.

“The one day I came over and he was just there in the living room. It was such a pleasant surprise. We talked initially at the house and then started to get out in the fresh air. I find getting out really helps a young person start to open up.

“Lachlan just needed some guidance and support to help him identify his next steps more than anything. He had high anxiety and low confidence but with the right path to follow, doing something he loved, which was IT, I knew he’d start to overcome the things that were holding him back. It’s incredible to see how far he’s come.”