Back in October, we met Gary Sibbald at one of our four-day programmes. He amazed us and everyone else attending with his philosophical pondering and excellent doodles. We hope that his retelling of events after attending the programme encourages you to follow your dreams and believe in yourself. You are amazing! Thank you, Gary, for sharing this emotional but awe-inspiring story with us.
Are we sitting comfortably?
No work, no house, and no money, what else could go wrong? In the space of four days, we found ourselves in temporary accommodation thinking the future was bleak.
We were advised to go to our local Job Centre and apply for Universal Credit, where by chance Chris, one of Yvonne's job coaches came over for a chat and enquired about her wellbeing, he then suggested that she would benefit attending a programme/course called Meee, she signed up on the condition that I came along too.
On the morning of the first day, Yvonne was nervous but I talked her round into going as I was curious what it was all about. We arrived early at the venue where I noticed that two young ladies were having difficulties in unloading their car, so I went over and asked if they wanted any help which they gratefully accepted. On unloading the car Yvonne noticed the Meee logo on certain items, which helped to break the ice straight away.
Once everyone was inside the venue, Jo and Tia introduced themselves and explained what we would be doing together for the next four days. After day one I was still curious and skeptical but was looking forward to going the next day and so was Yvonne.
The next three days flew by, we had fun, we had thoughtful times, emotional times, time listening and talking to each other, and then it was time to move on.
I said to everyone "I was happy to meet, sorry to part, but I would be happy to meet again" and I honestly hand on heart meant it.
I decided that I would because I chose to not have to, keep in touch with Jo and Tia because I felt that I had just begun a new journey to somewhere new.
Throughout the course, I began to relax and began to take notes and I could feel a change inside me, which brought out the creative side of me that had been dormant in me for a long time.
On showing Jo one of my doodles, she wanted to share it with someone else, a person called Sid... The founder of Meee.
After the Meee Programme, I popped into the local Poundland and purchased a 200 page A4 drawing pad for you guessed it, a pound! Armed with my new pencil and Yvonne's stash of crayons, I carried on doodling when I had any spare time from visiting the job center, local council, library or any other jobs that needed doing.
Yvonne sent pictures of doodles to Jo and Tia via phone when we had credit on them, for the next couple of weeks, she told me that they really like to see what was coming next.
Then completely out of the blue, Sid sent me an email, I said to Yvonne "who is this Sid bloke?" She replied "the founder of Meee you numpty!" (Or words to that effect!) I casually said, "what does he want?"
On reading the email Sid was asking if we could meet up somewhere for a chat over a cup of tea and a slice of cake and he said it was his treat!
I was curious and intrigued as to why he would want a chat with me? I decided in for a penny, in for a pound and I thought the cafe near where the Meee course was held would be okay! Was he still up for it?
I replied to his email saying that it would be a pleasure to meet up and have a chat at the venue I had chosen when it was suitable for him.
"Oh yes he was up for it"
Date and time decided and then confirmed, the blind date was set up. (I knew what Sid looked like from a picture on the Meee course, but he didn't know what I looked like!)
When the time arrived for our rendezvous, I got together some of the doodles and my little black book and set off for the cafe, nervous but excited. I reached the cafe 15 minutes early, entered and explained to the lady who I met when I was on the course that I was meeting someone "not a problem" she replied, so I took a seat and waited.
The mysterious and magical Sid arrived at the cafe door (writers license!) he entered and I stood up, he then came over to me with a smile on his face, he gestured to shake hands and said "Gary" at the exact same time I said "Sid" which broke the ice.
He ordered teas (no cake, was not feeling hungry or cheeky) and when he spoke I listened and when I spoke he listened, questions were asked and answered, and he pointed out to me a few paths I could if I wanted to, head on down, and with a positive outlook, he encouraged me to focus and progress on anything I really wanted to do, that I enjoyed doing as well.
He gave me the money to pay for the teas after we had finished our chat and told me to "keep the change" I said that I would put it to good use and that I would keep in touch as discussed earlier, we both left, I felt like a "million dollar man"
A couple of days later Yvonne had a doctors appointment to attend, so I went along with her. Unbeknown to me, she was concerned about my wellbeing ( she has been my soulmate and partner for 20 years) so she asked Dr Z if she would have a chat with me on the premise of the pictures Yvonne had shown her on her phone. Dr Z agreed and she asked how I was feeling and advised that I should have a blood test at the local hospital ASAP so she could see if everything was okay. Yvonne has hers done routinely, I agreed, she also asked if I would do some more doodles for the children's area when they redecorate the surgery in the new year, I said I would love to.
I had blood tests done and I carried on doodling some ideas for Dr's surgery in my spare time, Yvonne would show Jo, Tia and Sid what I was up to and getting honest feedback kept me positive, I still couldn't see what all the fuss was about!
48 hours passed and the receptionist at the Drs phoned saying that Dr. Z wanted to see me the next day about my results! I was concerned but tried not to show it to Yvonne.
On arriving at Drs, I was greeted by the receptionist with a smile that made me feel at ease so I took a seat. Dr. Z called me in and explained my results straight away which also put me at ease and she gave me the first of the intensive course injections that I needed.
There was then the treatment required via hospital, Drs and Nurses surgery (which is over the road from the Drs).
In between, I was encouraged by the Meee team and Yvonne to carry on doodling to keep me busy and focused on something positive, so I doodled Dr. Z (and her husband also Dr. Z) the receptionists and Nurses as they inspired me with their energy and dedication to all who come in to see them.
Once I had finished the course of treatment I decided to do something that I both wanted and needed to do, that I had never thought about before...
So I returned to Poundland (other shops are also available) with Sid’s change in my pocket and purchased two A4 frames suitable for putting the doodles of both Dr. Z's inside them.
Upon going to the surgery for an update of my blood results, I gave the receptionist, Angie, the framed doodles in a 5p carrier bag (one for life) on the way out with as little fuss as possible.
OMG!!! Next time I went to pick up a repeat prescription with Yvonne, Gemma another lovely receptionist, said to Angie, who was in the back of the office "the picture man is here!" To which Angie stated, "tell him I need to speak to him!"
"Should I stay or should I go now?" (Sounds like a song!" came into my head).
Angie came to the desk with a huge smile on her face, "Dr. Z & Dr. Z are completely taken aback and love their pictures, makes them smile and their patients smile as well" she said, then she hit me with it "where's ours?" I replied, "leave it with me, I'll see what I can come up with."
We both left with smiles on our faces.
With Poundland on the way back we popped in for a couple of more frames, I now had another agenda, one for the Dr's reception and the other for the Nurses practice. I discussed with Yvonne how I felt and thought about what Angie had said, it made me feel good inside and out. Next time I was passing I promised myself to drop off two more Unique framed doodles for some unique and priceless people.
The SAS style mission was planned, in and out, minimum contact, no sign of engagement, both in the Drs Reception and nurse’s surgery. Mission was completed 2 days later.
A fortnight passed until our next blood test reviews came around so Yvonne and I made our way to the Dr's surgery, on entering we were rendered speechless because, there in the prime position in view of all to see, behind the receptionist's head was my framed doodle. "We love it, it makes us smile," said Angie and Gemma "thank you for taking the time to do it."
It got worse (or better!) on seeing Dr. Z she pointed out her doodle and explained how she felt after she was given it by Angie, and the response also of the nurses across the road. I was embarrassed but at the same time so made up. I left the Drs Surgery on cloud 9, proving to myself that small acts of kindness can lead to positive changes.
Yvonne later that day spoke to Jo at Meee HQ and told her what had gone on, she was genuinely pleased and excited for both of us, she also said that Sid was guest speaking at the local community first enterprise workshop and would like me to attend if I wished to see what opportunities may be available to carry on encouraging my creative and curious side. I said, "I would attend because I wanted to."
After 45 minute walk, I arrived at the venue, signed in and waited for the workshop to begin.
Everybody did a short introduction of who and what they are, I said "Gary, curious, come to listen and observe, and hopefully take notes on many items that would be useful in my progression on my current journey" which I did.
I am still doodling, taking pictures on my phone, keeping in touch with people I have recently met, attending Drs for updated results, genuinely keeping and feeling positive, and attempting to put down on paper (as asked for by Jo & Sid) my journey with Meee as it has unfolded.
Mine and Yvonne's journey is continuing, I hope it gives you food for thought about your own, thank you for taking 'your time' to read ours up to now!!
Gary and Yvonne
P.S: To Jo, Sid & The team, last words for now! 2 you!
The world needs more people like you, not only this country, I cannot express my full thanks but hopefully, my dooodles drawn, and even my words written down are a start.
"You are Meee!!!"
Thank you for being who and what you are. I am humbled, grateful and honoured to have the support of people like you.
Thank you very much,
Diolch yr fawr iawn.
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Many thanks from us all at Meee.