Em has being living at the YMCA for a couple of years. In that time she has made the most of the fresh opportunities offered to her to change her life for the better.
She recalls, “When I was still living at home I was struggling with my mental health, and there were frequent arguments with my family. My Dad and step mum were breaking up, home life became very unsettled and in the end I was thrown out of the family home.
“At that point I went to YAC (YMCA’s Youth Advice Centre in Brighton). I knew they helped homeless people so I went to them for advice. I had nowhere to stay although I knew a bit about the YMCA because I’d volunteered with one of their projects.
“Anyway thanks to YAC I was offered somewhere to live in a YMCA hostel. It felt safe and secure and gave me a base where I could start to get my life back on track. I got a lot of support there, particularly with my mental health. Through the YMCA and YAC I was able to access other services.
“When I was made homeless I was scared about where I might end up, but with the support and high quality service I’ve received I had nothing to worry about.
“I’ve also had some fantastic opportunities that I never could have imagined. Last summer I went to Borneo with Raleigh International, to work and promote sustainable development in remote and poor communities. Without YMCA support I would never have done that – it was a once in a lifetime experience and for that I’m truly grateful.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve been able to join the YMCA DownsLink Group’s Young People’s Board – we work towards getting the views and opinions of young people heard and considered by those higher up in the organisation.
“In the future I’d love to work in probation, prison or youth work. Meanwhile I’ll be spending this summer working with young people on the National Citizenship Scheme programme. I am grateful to the YMCA for the support and opportunities given to me, which I believe have helped me to secure this work.”