By Johnny Wells

I guess I should start this with info about myself. I have been a member of YorSpace since 2018 and am a (future) resident of Lowfield Green Housing Co-Op. I am married and we have a two-year-old son. I also have mental health problems.

For a long time I’ve had anxiety, depression and self-confidence issues. At times these can become all-consuming in my life whilst at other times they can be quietened and controlled. They’ve always affected how I progress in life, holding me back from doing what I want or what could improve my life. When I stumbled upon an article about YorSpace in the York Press I had no thought that this would be something that would have a major positive impact on my mental wellbeing. In the beginning I merely saw it as a project that would help my family to get a good place to live, that we could afford.

I went along to a meeting, was welcomed in the manner I’m sure many of you who have met the YorSpace folks are accustomed to. I had rarely come across such open generosity of kindness like this before and decided right then that we needed to be a part of what they were doing and to live in the community they were building. More significantly, I wanted to have an impact on YorSpace. I felt that these people would listen and not judge. This is something that I have long struggled with. A fear of being judged by people, that if I say something wrong then not only will I be derided for what I have said but also will be excluded for it. This group is nothing like that. I grew in confidence as I went to more and more meetings.

I have now been a part of this project for a year and a half. Within that time I have done things that I would’ve never imagined myself able to do before I became a part of YorSpace. To some these may be everyday actions, like meeting solicitors or contractors. To me, they. are. panic. inducing. But the community we have built in YorSpace means that I know I am supported in this, that I can do things and I should not be afraid of mistakes that I make. There are times when the magnitude of the project has seemed overwhelming to me. I become anxious and withdrawn again. But! I now have a group of people who understand and are there to help me through it.

I am not cured of mental health problems - they’ll be part of me for life. But being a part of YorSpace and the support of the community we have built has changed how I view those problems and has significantly reduced their impact on the rest of my life. I will always be thankful for that.