Fit to Fight Mental Illness

Said is a former refugee from a Middle-Eastern country, who had an incredibly difficult first two years in Australia. He became homeless and generally poor in mental and physical health.

He had used fitness as a means to improve his mental/physical health and build his confidence and self-discipline. He also managed to secure social housing with the help of the Matthew Talbot Lodge case management team. These combined to raise him out of homelessness, and also addressed some of his poor mental health. 

He decided that he would like to share the benefits of exercise/fitness with others experiencing poor mental health and/or homelessness. With this in mind he attended the Australian Institute of Fitness, and gained a Cert 3 and 4 in Personal Training. He knew that he wanted to start slow, so advertised locally as an independent personal trainer, with limited success. 

At this point he became aware of St Vincent de Paul Society's Ability Links. As he is a very driven individual, the Linker mostly helped him build confidence, and provided advice around supports that he could access. We have found him a mentor for setting up his own personal training service, to be geared towards those with a disability or mental illness. We also met with one of the workers at King George V Community Centre, a City of Sydney centre geared primarily towards fitness and sports. He will start there as a volunteer assistant on their refugee program, and has been told that if he gets a Fitness Australia Certificate and an ABN, he will likely be added to the roster as a paid instructor.