Two years ago, David Craggs’ life was turned upside down when he was made redundant from his job as a bricklayer and building maintenance engineer after developing back problems.
For the next 18 months he claimed incapacity benefit.
“I was 46 and had never been unemployed. In my old job I was working on lots of different projects and met lots of people and all of a sudden I wasn’t. I live on my own, wasn’t going out much and it was getting me down,” Craggs says.
“It was making me feel inadequate – I thought ‘what will people think of me when I go to see the doctor – will they think I’m a genuine case?’”
Craggs went on the condition management programme and was allocated a counsellor to help address the situation: Kevin Stoneman, a nurse from South Tyneside & Gateshead Health Trust.
“My problem was a bad back but it had stressed me out as well. We looked at how to manage the physical condition and were able to talk for two hours at a time – it was more like a friendship thing – analysing the impact it was having on my life. In comparison you can only get a 10-minute slot with your GP.
“He helped me realise I could use my experience through construction to get another job that didn’t involve heavy lifting. And then six months ago a job came up as a handyman for the Salvation Army and I got it. It turned my life around.”