“During the second year of my PhD, I began experiencing back pain, but thought it was just down to me putting too much strain on my body. So I reduced my physical activity.”

Multiple tests and scans led to a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis, an auto-immune disorder that causes arthritis around the hips and spine. He had to take six months off work and education.

“I was bed-bound and could only move around on crutches. My mental health took a huge knock, not to mention my finances. I had to go back to Tesco, even when I was still in recovery, so that I could cover my rent.

“Two years after completing my PhD, I was still there and struggling to find health work. My partner decided to relocate to Birkenhead in 2019 and I decided to go too, hoping for a fresh start. And that’s exactly what I got.”

Alex registered at his local Job Centre, which recommended The Trust’s Get into NHS programme. He completed the course and was able to do further training in basic life support, safeguarding and life skills, as well as securing an interview to get on to the NHS Bank recruitment placement.

Since I completed the programme, I continued to volunteer in the same department as my placement and have been working as an honorary assistant psychologist at Aintree University Hospital, until the pandemic. I’ve received confirmation of my appointment as NHS Bank staff and hope to begin as soon as possible, when we are over the worst of COVID-19, due to my health conditions putting me at risk.”