Ryan was 7 years old when he learnt the devastating news that his father was terminally ill with cancer. His mother had heard about Simon Says and signed Ryan and his younger sister up to one of the groups.
Ryan attended group on and off for the next few years, as and when he felt he needed support. He particularly needed it when he turned 12 / 13. It was a difficult period in his life, along with the added pressure of his bereavement.
“The groups really helped me, particularly with anger management and emotional support. At the time I found it really hard to talk about things and instead bottled it all up. I didn’t want to upset my mum or my sister by talking about how I felt. Simon Says helped by showing me how to write my feelings down and put them in a feelings box. My mum would then read them but wouldn’t talk to me about it, it helped her understand how I was feeling but without me having to open up to her. Mum then understood what I was going through and we were able to talk about everything and eventually the box disappeared.
The other thing that really helped was the anger activities. I had no control over my emotions and wanted to explode sometimes and didn’t know what to do. Simon Says gave me a channel for my emotions so I could release my anger in an effective way and not hurt anyone. I learnt not to hurt myself and others, instead using a pillow I would scream into and punch. They also talked to me about walking away and counting to ten, breathing slowly, going for walk or a run. I managed to take control.
Simon Says helped me growing up and coming to terms with my loss. Now I want to help them and give something back. Volunteering continues to help me and I like helping others. I had a choice years ago of which path to take, I would have taken the dark, negative path but instead I accepted the help and used it, I took the path to being a better person. I have really positive energy now and know I have grown into someone my Dad would be proud of.”