I have had the immense privilege over these last few months of working in The Cavern, our inclusive coffee shop set up to provide work experience opportunities and the base for our out of hours mental health drop in. One of our biggest customer bases is young people.

I am so blessed to have been able to get to know and build relationships with many of  the young people that come along. Each and every young person who comes into The Cavern is unique, with individual talents, passions, and all with a desire to be loved, accepted, and being a part of something bigger.

One thing that has struck me the most, is how so many young people I’ve met simply cannot see the immense value in themselves that I can see. This is heartbreaking and I have often been shocked by this. That this is a gifted and talented generation, who are held back by insecurity and have a lack of self-worth.

It does, however,  remind me of the long journey I have taken in my life to get to the place of seeing my own self worth.

When i was just seven years old I first remember saying to my parents that I wanted to die. I did not like myself, even at that young age, and therefore I saw no point in continuing to live. For me it was simple, for my parents totally distressing.

Throughout primary and secondary school I battled feelings of self loathing and self hatred. I felt suicidal for much of that time. Sometimes there were triggers to these feelings, sometimes it would just hit me like a wave. Each day was a battle and one comment from another person could affect my whole day, week or even month.

When I was 19 I started going to church and I started to explore who I was, and began to see myself as someone with gifts and talents. I was starting to see how I could make a difference to the world around me and began to feel like I could have purpose in my life.

I still struggled with depression, self loathing and had dark thoughts at times.

When I moved to Gloucester, leaving Watford and my life there, it was hard. I had to find my place again, and some of the old thoughts of not being good enough or special and feeling lost often crept in.

Why do I share this part of me in such a public way? For some of you reading this, this will be a total surprise. I share this because of how different my life is now. I know that many people are struggling right now, and that hope seems absent and all there is are the black clouds. I could not imagine life being any different - how wrong I was.

At 27 years old, 20 years after telling my parents I wanted to die, I realised that something had changed. I felt loved, I felt I had a purpose in life, I felt like I could make a difference! We started Kingfisher Treasure Seekers the following year.

I am passionate about not letting others go through that experience alone. I am passionate about walking with people through the hard times, offering hope when they can see none. I am passionate about the power of community, as that is what made a difference in my life. I believe in the power of encouragement, the sense of purpose discovering talents and gifts can bring.

Kingfisher Treasure Seekers was founded by myself, Katie and Jan. We each have had our own journeys which led us to start this organisation. This is my story.

Whatever struggle you maybe facing right now, that need not be your whole story. Let us walk with you, support you, encourage you, speak out words of hope when all you can see are black clouds. However you feel about yourself, know that you matter to us. I wholeheartedly believe that lives can be changed, because mine has been.

If you want to get in touch to find out how we can support you then please do contact us or drop into Support at The Cavern based at The Cavern. The support service runs between 6pm-11pm, 365 days a year. 

Craig is one of the founders and is a Director of Kingfisher Treasure Seekers.