Lucy’s story

Lucy* was struggling with homelessness and other issues – Positive Placements is making a difference.

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

Lucy was evicted from her family home after she told her parents that she was lesbian. After being thrown out of her home she presented as homeless to the YMCA DownsLink Group’s Youth Advice Centre where, following an assessment, staff were able to offer her a safe place to stay in YMCA DLG accommodation.

At this time Lucy faced a variety of challenges in her life. In addition to being ostracised by her family Lucy experienced homophobic abuse and was significantly affected by an undiagnosed mental health issue, alcohol misuse and prolific self-harming.

YMCA staff liaised with mental health and substance use services to ensure that Lucy received the support she needed. YMCA staff worked with Lucy to ensure she was safe and in a stable supported position from which she could begin to move forward in her life.

This package of support provided Lucy with a stable platform from which she could start considering her employment options. At this point that she was referred to the YMCA DLG’s Positive Placements project. Positive Placements matches a volunteer mentor with a young person who wants to be supported to identify and achieve the steps they need to take to access employment, education or training.

Lucy and her mentor Chris began meeting on a weekly basis. In the beginning their focus was on building trust and rapport and starting to explore the steps that Lucy could take towards employment. With the support from her mentor and YMCA DLG staff Lucy was referred to a ‘return to work’ course from which she gained a work experience placement that has successfully led on to paid employment. Chris has supported Lucy every step of the way, being there when she needed support and encouragement.

Chris describes her mentoring role as, “Being an ‘interested person’ in her life. Not mother, sister or even friend, just someone who has an interest in her as an individual and hopefully I show her that she is well worth being around. I have a sense of pride that I have helped to set her on a more positive path. It has not always been easy – and has definitely sometimes been a rollercoaster ride. In fact, I have got such a lot out of the experience that I am volunteering to take on another young person alongside my initial mentee.”