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Exeter City coach tackles mental health

Shane Barker, Exeter City Community Trust coach

Inspiring story on how this Exeter man overcame drugs and depression to become a qualified coach

Earlier this month, millions supported World Mental Health Day (10th October).

Shane Barker, a coach at Exeter City Community Trust, shared his story on how he overcame anxiety and depression to become a qualified coach.

"My story begins when I lost my mum to suicide in 2011," said Shane. "I lost my way and became involved in drug abuse as my life spiralled from there into depression and anxiety, which were the main areas of mental health conditions that I developed.

"I lost my job and I was between homes after that, as well as being homeless three times.

"The third time that I was homeless, I decided to do something about it and that’s when I was able to get into the Amber Foundation in Exeter, which was a very big step in being able to get back on track.

"I was part of a group who regularly attended Exeter City’s Opportunity Cub football session (ran by City Community Trust), which meant I could meet new people with their own mental health issues through our mutual love for football. 

"And as much as I enjoyed playing football, I was interesting in coaching it and it was then that I met with the disability officer at Exeter City and a very positive conversation came out of it.

"I was to undergo my FA Level 1 coaching course and I asked the session leaders about volunteer opportunities with Exeter City's Football in the Community scheme. 

"I learned new techniques and drills. Now, I do some occasional coaching with the Down’s Syndrome players and I’m a qualified referee so I’ve been able to get my hands on various roles which have expanded my involvement, experience and knowledge in football. So it’s been quite an amazing journey and a gateway to a career that I never thought I could possibly attain so it was really worthwhile."

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