Clocking on helps Sheffield dad get life back on track

Keith Dewsnap who makes football clocks at St Wilfrid's after suffering a mental beakdown
Keith Dewsnap who makes football clocks at St Wilfrid's after suffering a mental beakdown
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This time three years ago Keith Dewsnap had hit rock bottom.

The father-of-two found himself living alone, depressed, and barely able to go out of the house after suffering a nervous breakdown when he lost his job and his marriage collapsed.

It was a world away from the life he had known, working as a mechanic since leaving school.

Keith, aged 57, of Manor Park, Sheffield, said: “I split up with my wife and I was made redundant within the space of two months. I’d never been out of work for more than two weeks.

“I’d gone from being a provider for a family to living on my own, and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Help arrived in the form of Spaces – a 12-week course run by Sheffield’s mental health and social care support service – which he attended once a week.

But when that came to an end Keith felt like he was being sent back to square one.

Then came a referral to St Wilfrid’s Centre, a charity which offers a lifeline to socially excluded and vulnerable people in Sheffield.

Going to the centre gave Keith a reason to get up and out again, but he still found it difficult to engage with others.

He said: “I used to sit with my puzzle book. I wanted to be around people but I still couldn’t really talk to people, if that makes sense.”

One day a St Wilfrid’s worker suggested he put his manual skills back to good use and take part in workshop sessions, where clients make football clocks supplied to the likes of Sheffield United.

“It was hard getting back into it at first, but I slowly started getting better,” said Keith.

“Suddenly I felt like I was back at work again. That’s what I’d wanted to do by going to St Wilfrid’s. To sort myself out and get a job.”

On top of creating football clocks, Keith has been involved in graphic design, laser cutting, and producing banners, and has gained a wealth of new skills.

Putting in a day’s graft instilled such a sense of pride that Keith felt he had got his life back on track and took the decision to come off anti-depressant medication.

His hard work finally paid off when he was offered a paid job as a mentor, nurturing the talents of other vulnerable people.

He said: “The people coming in are like me. I know what they’ve been through and hopefully I can offer them a helping hand.

“In January I bought a calendar and at the top I wrote, ‘This is the beginning of a great year’. That’s my outlook now.”

Keith is one of two new recruits at the workshop. He has been joined by Gregg Sherwood, aged 22, who began volunteering at the centre after struggling to find work.

Kevin Bradley, director of St Wilfrid’s Centre, said: “Both Gregg and Keith have inspiring stories. Keith was a different person when he came to us.

“He’s been on an amazing journey.”