WiLL Project – Matt’s Story

Read Matt's story on how signing up to the WiLL project has given him the confidence and direction to help him overcome his anxiety.

The Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) programme help people who are economically inactive or unemployed who are living in rural Leicestershire to move into job search, training, or employment. Providing volunteer support and opportunities for people to gain experience and confidence.

I have had to deal with my Autism my whole life as a child. It often took me longer to do anything within education, I achieved the same as others when given the time and patience but being diagnosed in my teens this was often few and far between.

I left education 4 years ago having failed to finish my University course due to a mix of mistakes, Autism, ADHD and a huge personal naivety. Even though this left me very upset and disappointed with myself I tried to perceive, I tried to look for work or to start a business but lacked the necessary confidence and belief in myself as well as the tools that most neurotypicals possess naturally that help them find work. The Job centre was not adequate at supporting me because their practises discriminate against the neurodiverse and disabled.

Whilst trying to find assistance that was inclusive he found out about VAL through an acquaintance that he knew in the local council.

The difference from what I’d experienced in the past was vast! For the first time I felt listened to, my disability accepted and I felt very comfortable almost immediately.

Matt signed up to the WiLL programme and was given one to one support and advice from Zuli one of our Keyworkers on the project. He was put into contact with other services that could assist him in building his confidence and gaining the right skills to search for employment, which were previously holding him back from finding work.

Everything was progressing smoothly until lockdown came into effect, even through lockdown Zuli kept in contact and even though the amount of opportunities shrank, she motivated me to continue my self improvement through lockdown. We also reflected regularly on my progress which helped me to realise how I’d improved in ways I wasn’t even aware of.

Matt joined Access Generation, a peer panel that helps improve the application and interviewing process for young people. He also joined The Prince’s Trust Team which helped him to handle social situations and showed ways of working in teams. Webinart to learn specifically how to excel with a creative business and to get in contact with multiple local creative practitioners. He also attended multiple webinars through recovery collage.

None of this would have been possible to achieve without the consistent assistance and support given by the WiLL Project. Zuli has also always been understanding of my disabilities and both assisted me when needed but also helped me to try things out of my comfort zone in a supportive way.

Through the project I have gained a confidence in myself I never thought was possible, things that used to cause me debilitating anxiety I now feel confident enough to overcome independently. I feel my future is much brighter for having been part of the project. COVID-19 may have slowed the process but the way I feel about myself and the world is significantly more positive.

The project gave me direction when I felt lost and it helped me wrestle control away from my disability and anxiety.


The Work.Live Leicestershire (WiLL) Project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and The European Social Fund. It is delivered in partnership with Voluntary Action LeicesterShire.