Dylan's story - YMCA DownsLink Group

Dylan’s story

Dylan with curley brown hair and braces smiling at the camera, sat in a grass field

Dylan* ran away from home when he was 14 after being stuck at the centre of his parents’ violent divorce. He started selling and taking drugs to help him cope but ended up in hospital after suffering from a nervous breakdown. It all turned around when Dylan moved into one of our supported accommodations and was given the support and advice he needed to overcome his addiction, start working and become an independent young person.

Dylan tells us his story in his own words:

“My childhood was unsettled by my parents’ stormy relationship resulting in their divorce. They both used me as a weapon to get at each other with violent fights over who would see us and who owned what so I ran away when I was 14.

I stayed at random people’s houses and dealt drugs to support myself. I ended up taking them myself. But in this vulnerable state I was abused whilst staying at one man’s house. Because I lived in a small town this soon got back to my family who took me back home but the damage was already done. I was addicted to heroin and taking other drugs to block out reality.

Living with my Mum turned bad after the divorce. She started laying into me and I had a nervous breakdown. I was sectioned but the hospital took me off all my medication apart from methadone and kicked me out. I had nowhere to live, and a mental health problem with no support or medication.

I started sofa surfing and sleeping rough until thankfully I was able to move into the local YMCA. They gave me meals everyday and a comfortable room to stay in. I got support from the Housing team and I was offered counselling. I lived at the YMCA for about two years, before moving on to live more independently at another YMCA property. I lived there for 18 months until I was offered a house by the local council. I’m now finished with drugs and working part time. If I hadn’t had a room at the YMCA then I don’t know where I would be today, probably laying dead in a gutter.”

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

If you would like to support a young person like Dylan, why not sign up to our ROOM SPONSORSHIP scheme. For just 40p a day you could make a long-term difference to a young person needing support at this crucial time in their lives. You can put them on the path to a brighter future.

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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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