David’s story

David was working as a chef when a life changing injury at work turned everything upside down.  His normal life quickly unravelled but the YMCA Empty Homes scheme has helped him get back on his feet.

While working in a professional kitchen David’s hand got caught in machinery. He underwent complicated surgery to reduce the chronic pain but still has only limited mobility in that hand.  During this time he was staying with his mother but their relationship was affected so badly that ultimately he moved out.

David picks up the story, “The post-traumatic stress hit me and that affected my relationship with my mother.  Over time, my housing situation changed from staying with her to being homeless. I stayed in my car for three months, roughing it on the streets. I wanted to have somewhere to live.  I started eating less and my anxiety increased.  One of my biggest challenges was dealing with my worry; I would normally wake up at 5am and from that time I had massive worry about where I was going to stay that night.”

Due to his deteriorating mental condition, he was eventually taken in to a local residential mental health service where people in crisis can find some respite.  After a short stay they referred him to the YMCA.

The YMCA Empty Homes scheme brings empty rental properties back into use, refurbishing the property and then managing the tenancy on behalf of the landlord. Many properties have been made available to young people that would otherwise be standing empty.

David says, “YMCA Empty Homes ticked all the right boxes.  Firstly, I could access support 24 hours a day.  Then, as soon as I met the Service Manager, he was on the ball; he showed the right attitude, full of information and with a complete understanding of my needs and the help I required.  I moved into my own place in March 2014.  My best memory is the day I got housed and I filled in the tenancy agreement.”

David is still in a legal battle to bring closure to his accident.  He has to cope with day-to-day challenges like pain, medication, continuing medical checks and dealing with the legal matters involved in his court case.

“I’ve had ups and downs over the last two years but the help provided by YMCA has been consistent and accessible – it’s been always there for me.  I’ve got my place, my privacy and I find the interaction very reassuring – they keep me informed and I know where I stand.  Changing from living in a car to a flat has been healthy.  I have been very lucky.

“I’m not half as stressed as I used to be.  Living on my own has also given me a template for structure and routine.  In addition, it has laid the foundation for a better relationship with my mum.  There have been some important changes.  Now I have a home and my mental health is a lot better since I first got in contact with YMCA.  I’m realising I’m a much stronger person now.

“I hope I can return to work in the future.  I’m looking into accessing new training and even into the possibility of a career change.  I’m grateful to the YMCA, without it my situation would be quite stressful and the future would be unclear.  There is no future in the past, now I’m looking forward.  And to any young person in crisis like I was I would say grasp the opportunity with both hands as the care the YMCA provides is so helpful.”

David’s YMCA Empty Homes worker says, “I met David soon after he moved into YMCA Empty Homes.  His case is inspirational and he is a tremendous example of resilience.

“David has suffered ups and downs in his mental health but he has found the strength to address issues and access the necessary help in order to make changes to improve it.  No matter how challenging his situation has been, he continues to always be polite and he has a welcoming approach.”

David is looking forward to having his court hearing and putting an end to this difficult chapter in his life.  On this tough journey, David has gained a variety of skills and he has become more aware of his strengths and gained confidence.  We are delighted that YMCA Empty Homes has given him the fresh start and solid base that he needed and wish him every success in the future.