Natalie Masters always had a plan in her life, she was always going to be a mechanic in the Army and was always going to have children. That was just how it would be. But then her life was rewritten – against her will.
Following a long family tradition, Natalie had joined the cadets before leaving school, after leaving school she immediately enlisted in the Army – eventually becoming a Class A Mechanic. Being time served, Natalie left the army in 2003 to work as a Level 2 Radiologist in the Aerospace industry, marrying in 2011 and planning to start a family. Unfortunately, family plans didn’t happen as they had hoped, and after several rounds of IVF, a lost child in 2015, Natalie received the devastating news that she would not be able to have children.
Natalie says “My life had been rewritten – against my will, I just didn’t know what to do. Having had on-going problems with highs and lows since I was 17, I found depression really kicked in which resulted in me quitting my job in radiology in 2014. I was soon isolated, angry, friendless and jobless. I no longer wanted to live and attempted suicide”.
Having been admitted 3 times to Rowan Ward in Yeovil, Natalie’s psychiatrist recommended she visited the Watch Project. “It was the summer of 2016 when I started going to the project, at first I was really quiet & angry about everything. I tended to sit on my own listening to the iPod, but gradually I realised that a lot of the activities in the project interested me, and I started to become more involved.”
With the gradual process of restoring personal resilience and confidence well underway, it was suggested that Natalie tried Level 2 in Food Hygiene, which would be funded by Watch. Natalie excelled, thoroughly enjoying the course and subsequently helping in the kitchen at the weekly project with volunteers Mike & Soo.
“My confidence returned, my feelings of self-worth returned, and I even applied for a job, only working 2.5hrs a day – but it was a start. Working as a cleaner for Green Machine, my confidence continued to grow, I started to work additional hours daily and I loved the feeling it gave me. Working more at other sites, by January 2018 I became the Account Manager. I was cleaning, auditing and ended up performance managing sites right across South Somerset”.
The Watch project had started the process of turning Natalie back into society, empowering her to realise she could manage her symptoms and find meaningful employment. Returning back to the Watch project to meet her friends, Natalie muses “Coming here helped me to rebuild my life, it helped me to find a safe place to meet people who had shared experiences. It made me realise that you don’t have to fit in, you can have alternative personality traits, but you can still find an employer who will support you – they are out there”.
The Watch project is a group of like-minded people whose aim is to provide other isolated individuals from Chard and the surrounding areas, a safe place to grow by developing confidence, friendships and valuable skills.
Julie Matthews, Project Manager says “Chard Watch opens its doors to provide a safe, secure and positive fun environment. However, it is the individuals that use the space with peer friends to start to engage. If members can start to find their own true potential in their own way it can hopefully lead them to progress on their journey. It is so important that they lead the way. All of us here just walk alongside them.
Natalie has remarkable skills and is an extremely generous person helping people along the way. We have just followed her. She didn’t say that last year she was employee of the year for green machine. We are very proud of her. It’s an honour to mention her on our website to show there is hope and the clouds don’t have to be there everyday”.
From cleaner to account manager in only 12mths, Natalie’s is a story of hope, success and belief in herself. The Watch project is proud of her achievements, but the person who needs to be most proud is – Natalie herself.