News People we've supported Tom's Story In 2018, Tom started experiencing extremely painful stomach problems, which caused problems attending school. Tom became very reclusive, shutting himself away from his friends and family and spending all of his time playing on his X-box. Llamau’s EMPHASIS Support Worker, Rhodri, stepped in to help Tom. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help Rhodri has given me. He’s helped me take back my life. I’d say I’ve always had a nice life. My childhood was good even though sadly my dad passed away when I was only 8. Losing him was hard on our family. Growing up I always enjoyed school. No one actually likes going to school but I never had any problems with it and always had a good crowd of friends around me; but in Year 10, I started to experience really bad stomach problems, which the doctor said was IBS but they were never really sure. I couldn’t go to school with it because it was so painful. I’d have accidents on the way to school and often have to use the toilet multiple times a day. I couldn’t physically cope with it at times. My mum thought I was putting it on because I wanted to stay home and play on my X-box, which caused us both a lot of stress and we’d argue a lot. My school made me feel worse about the whole situation. They’d send people out to pick me up and force me to go in but that would trigger my stomach pains. I didn’t feel like they were trying to understand how bad things were for me so I just decided to stop going. I just shut myself away in my room and played my X-box all day. I stopped seeing my friends and almost completely stopped going outdoors. It was around this time, Rhodri from Llamau first came to visit me. Rod helped me with everything and he was a great support for my mum and family. Rod helped me with doctor visits and put pressure on my school to sort out some home tutoring for me, which meant I was able to do my GCSE’s and pass them. Rod was really different because unlike regular counselling, he’d take me out to do something interesting like quad biking or we’d go walking for miles and just talk but outside in the fresh air. I think when I was sat in a room talking to anyone it was no different to what I was doing every day back then but when Rod took me outdoors, it was interesting. I had an allotment for a while, which Rod and I tore up together. We worked hard tearing down an old shed, which was so hard but like therapy as well. We talked about everything. I told him about my concerns and hopes for the future. The goal always was to complete my GCSE’s, get into college and feel better in general and that’s what Rod has helped make happen. I even ended up selling my X-box and buying a bike to get me out more. My mum couldn’t believe it and called Rod to tell him. I’m so much better these days. I wouldn’t say I was depressed before but I just didn’t live for anything. I had no goals back then but now I’m working, I have a girlfriend and I’m back at the gym. I’m now really excited about completing my Carpentry course in college.