Brendan arrived at GalGael’s workshop with a cynicism bordering on healthy and not particularly hopeful of much of anything. Brendan wrote to us after completing our Journey On programme in 2014 to say that he thought GalGael was "just another programme to keep the DWP off my back for a few more months while I got on with the business of drinking myself to death, no big deal".

Brendan found a place where he could just be Brendan - which at that time mainly involved getting stuck in to woodwork projects and inflicting his dark humour on others. Alongside a place to work on new skills, we work hard to create a space where people can make mistakes and still keep going – a place where you are good enough – where you are accepted just as you are. No judgement, no labels. Just flawed and very human, human beings helping each other on the journey to greater humanity. And no kid-ology.

Brendan's words echo that: "I was shut down, enclosed, bitter, angry and resentful of everything and everybody; then there was GalGael. I'm a changed man, a better man, a man able to properly express his gratitude and appreciation for just about the first time ever, to open up and allow the world to see who I really am."

It is entirely this kind of inner shift that we seek to bring about through the experiences the workshop creates - beyond the simple transference of skills. This shift is the impact GalGael strive for; “positive growth beyond ourselves” which - like the kind of process Brendan describes so articulately - is profoundly a story of finding some sense of togetherness in a messed up world as a foundation to greater health.

Brendan went on to volunteer at a new allotment GalGael had taken on before getting himself on to an apprenticeship with GalGael’s new partnership project Anchor and Sail, which started later in Summer 2014. Brian passed his City & Guilds Level 2 in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenace (Boatbuilding) in September 2016 – successfully completing his apprenticeship. He went on to use his skills in leading the restoration of our flagship Orcuan as part of our twentieth year celebrations. He was the guy who was about bursting – and shed a few tears - when she was re-launched at the Riverside Museum on the Clyde on 31 March 2017.

This is not your typical ‘success story’ with happy endings. Brendan hasn’t yet gone on to achieve the kind of ‘positive destination’ lauded by our sausage-factory employability policies. But it is a story of the incredible determination and strength of character it takes to achieve things others might take for granted – like having enough hope to engage in your future and the unbelievable grit needed to take on an apprenticeship with a City & Guilds and nail it. And it's not every day you get to lead the restoration of an iconic boat.