Coaching at her local Community Trust was not something Chloe Palmer could have envisaged when she lost all confidence and reached a very low point in her life a few years ago.
Chloe, was introduced to Exeter CITY Community Trust (CCT) in January 2018 thanks to the Amber Foundation, a charity which helps homeless and unemployed young people move on to positive and independent futures. Working with the organisation has rekindled her love for football and coaching and given her a positive outlook on the future.
She says the support from the charity and structure of her role has been the key to helping her with her personal progression after battling mental health issues.
She says: “My life got a bit chaotic and my mental health went downhill quite quickly whilst I was at college.
“I was also left sofa surfing, with no stability and no routine. It was when I was living with one of my close friends down in Plymouth that my support worker at the time put me in touch with Amber Foundation.
“They then got me involved with the Opportunity Hub at Exeter CITY Community Trust and from there my passion for football and coaching came back.”
The 20-year-old, from Plymouth, currently volunteers as coach at CCT’s DS Active Down’s syndrome sessions, Powerchair sessions and on disability holiday courses. She is also a member of CCT’s women’s Ability Counts team – a team which offer adults with mental health issues, learning difficulties and physical impairments the opportunity to engage in regular, structured, professional and fun physical training sessions.
She states that playing football and coaching has given her a purpose and a pathway to look forward to in her life.
She adds: “I had no confidence and low self-esteem before I went to Amber and started working with CCT.
“My anxiety was through the roof, to the point where I couldn’t really leave the house.
“But for the first time, I was around people who didn’t give up on me and I started to actually believe in myself and build a routine back in my life.”
Chloe credits the coaching opportunities at Exeter CITY Community Trust for giving her a more positive outlook on life and finds the responsibility to inspire, motivate and watch the development in others very fulfilling.
As she looks towards the future, she hopes to put her new skills into practice and achieve her goal of becoming a support worker.
“Football and coaching takes my mind off everything else and enables me to channel my emotions in a positive way.
“It feels good to be able to inspire and have an impact on the kids’ lives and then to actually see them develop and put the things you have taught them into a game, it makes you very proud.
“One day I would like to be a support worker and work with children with autism, so doing what I’m currently doing can only really help me achieve that.”
Will Allan, Disability Officer at Exeter CITY Community Trust, has seen Chloe progress since she first started volunteering in the summer of 2018, he says:
“Chloe has become a key member of the Exeter CITY Community Trust’s disability coaching team.
“She has a natural talent for coaching children and young people and is fantastic at connecting with some of our less confident players.
“She inspires them to get involved and helps them to achieve their best at every session.”