Lockdown lessons from a YMCA DLG resident

A young person, Susie*, shares her experience as a YMCA DLG resident during lockdown and her hopes for the future.

What brought you to YMCA DownsLink Group?

My family was split up due to an incident that then had a detrimental impact on my mother’s mental health. My mother and I found out that my little sister had been assaulted while under our care. From this, everything spiralled.

In the months after the incident, police, social workers and courts had gotten involved. My mum had no-one with her and was alone in a courtroom full of people and solicitors telling her she wasn’t good enough to look after her child. She became extremely depressed and had to rely on sleeping medication to just get enough sleep.

It was decided that my little sister would be sent to live in a foster home. That was the final nail in the coffin for my mother. We went abroad to see family, for what I thought was a holiday, and I returned by myself in September to start school again. She told me she would return in October. October turned to December, and then January came and she stated that she didn’t want to come to the UK because all she would think about is how she is no longer with her child.

I felt for her, but it still hurt being without her. While I was back home and studying, I had no way of paying rent (I was relying on benefits). I could just about manage food but my situation was not going to get any better. The landlord would pop over to collect money but I didn’t have a job and the adult renting the house was not in the country.

One day a social worker from another district, who had helped us in the past, visited and helped me out. She took me to my local council and spoke on my behalf about the situation I was going through. She worked tirelessly to get me some help and make sure I had food.

Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel – the council managed to get me into YMCA DLG supported accommodation. I was super thankful for social workers for helping me so much and I moved into my accommodation with less stress on my shoulders.

What difference has living with us made to you?

During the first couple of months living in supported accommodation, I got my first ever permanent job working in retail. I had this job for almost two years until they shut down their stores due to Covid-19.

I had sessions with someone to talk about how I was feeling and to just let out all my emotions. I felt alone for a while in my accommodation but it was only because I missed my family. So the barrier I had to conquer was to allow myself to accept the situation that my little sister and my mother were in and try and live the best life for myself so I can stop feeling so down.

It took time but I got there in the end. It took a year of living in my accommodation to be acclimated with being content and happy being by myself and to know that if I ever needed help or assistance, I could go right to reception and they’ll do the best they can to help me in any way.

How has the lockdown and Covid-19 affected you?

I’m an introvert and I love staying indoors, so lockdown hasn’t been much different to what I usually do. It hasn’t affected my mental health but it has affected my physical health as I haven’t been getting enough exercise as I am always in bed.

What have been the challenges during lockdown?

So far I’ve been living blissfully and enjoying my time here in supported accommodation.

Have there been any positives from the experience? 

I have learnt a lot about myself. I learnt that I was quite a clean person (a trait I got from my mum) and I have actually been more talkative with people, as I was quite shy in the beginning.

What difference have YMCA DLG staff made to you, during this time?

They have helped me tremendously – with food banks, rent management, social group clubs and one-to-one sessions to talk to a professional about my mental state. They have been there for everything I needed.

We all take for granted having constant support until it’s no longer there. It’s a blessing to have someone always look out for you and it makes life that much easier every day.

What are you most looking forward to doing after lockdown?

Seeing my friends, my little sister, my boyfriend and going on holidays again.

How do you think life will be different post-Covid-19? 

I believe that it won’t change much. Historically, after viruses spread among the population and were then treated, nothing really changed and it just went back to normal.

In my ideal world, I would love for there to be a control of pollution so that global warming wouldn’t increase. It’s definitely noticeable at this point that the world is heating up, and we have to make a change fast.

* The name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the young person

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YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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