Jordan, 23, tree surgeon trainee, Bristol

How did you know about abob?

I found out about them through JourneyMan – a rite of passage charity for boys – because I went to them when I was 15 and needed support. Being part of JourneyMan helped me make friends, keep them and trust men and abob carried that on. I used to get beaten up by men so I never trusted them.

How was your Community Quest weekend?

One of the things I got from the weekend was to relax around crying as a man. I’d always been told to Man UP and knowing that it was okay to cry made a big difference to me. Also that it’s okay to be angry, we were encouraged to express our full anger and there was no-one judging us.

I have a hard family history where my biological dad physically abused me before I was two and I was taken into care and adopted. I was able to express my anger – I wanted to beat the guy to hell. But more recently I’ve been in contact with him. I’m not excusing him but he was a drug addict.

Because I’d been involved with JourneyMan, I wasn’t as scared as young men who’d never done any of this kind of work.

What did you take away from the weekend?

I’m able to have whole days now where I don’t smoke any drugs. I discovered a whole new level of Brotherhood and support from men. I’m hoping in the future to provide that kind of male role model for my nephews.

Tell me a bit more about your background

I was adopted because of what happened to me as a baby. And my adoptive parents – well they are my mum and dad – have been great. I didn’t have any contact with my biological parents for 20 years and my biological mum has recently died.

Over the years, I had a lot of trouble with boys bullying me, and then older boys attacking me physically plus stabbing me. My dad saw that I was interested in knives when I was very young, so from the age of 10, I started training in Historical Martial Arts. As a discipline, it really gave me a sense of worth and probably saved my life a few times.

How are you around bullying?

I don’t accept bullying to myself or others. And one of the biggest sources of my anger and grief, is that a friend who was a girl was being bullied and I couldn’t do anything about it. It was cyber-bullying. I tried but she took her own life when she was 18. I am still devastated about it. I had a breakdown myself around it and wanted to take my own life and tried to do so ten times in one year. I was 16.

I also learnt from my own background to fight too much, to react and fight so I’ve had to learn how to deal with that too.

How has the mentoring helped you?

I’ve had two mentors, both of whom have helped a lot. They’ve helped me unlock parts of myself that I thought I’d lost through the attacks and bullying.

We go to a local coffee shop and sit down. I find it hard to sit indoors so we often sit outside and they don’t mind that I smoke, that means a lot. Being indoors makes me feel threatened, I feel that I might be attacked. So far smoking is a solace and comfort for me, it takes me back to smoking fags with my adoptive mum, it brings back good times. I am grateful to abob for understanding that.

I’m also learning not to blame myself for everything. I blame myself for not being able to protect my friend. My mentors point out that I was 16 and didn’t know what to do.

They also don’t mind me calling for support outside office hours and asking for advice.

How do you find the weekly meetings?

I can’t always go because of college but they are so accepting and so welcoming. They accept me as I am and occasionally I slip up. They stay supportive.

How do you see your future?

Hopefully I will be self-employed as a tree surgeon. I am hoping to continue developing friendships and relationships. I am already connected back to my birth family. There are 13 nieces and nephews!

How was your Homecoming ceremony? 

Beautiful. I teared up hearing other abob talking about me and the other mentees.

Abob have given me something I never thought I’d have – real men friends. I know when to trust to be open. That’s a key.