Georgia's story - YMCA DownsLink Group

Georgia’s story

Georgia, smiling stood against a green background with a plant to her side

Georgia had her independence taken away from her when her living situation became unmanageable and she found herself with nowhere to go. She was given a home at YMCA DownsLink Group and received support to reconnect with her family and learn vital life skills. Her natural leadership qualities and improved confidence have led her to become the voice of her housing project, championing positive, long-lasting change for residents across YMCA.

 

Georgia tells us her story in her own words:

I was living in a flat with somebody but I had to move out because it became a really bad situation. I moved back in with my parents, but I’d already moved out of there when I was 19 so it just didn’t work. I ended up having an argument with my stepdad and was kicked out. I had nowhere to go so I came to YMCA.

I’ve been living here now for a little over a year. I think it’s made me change for the better. The support I’ve been given from the key workers has helped quite a bit. And the work and learning support from Amy (Inspire Coach) has been useful.

If you need support and you don’t have family or anything, YMCA is a good place to go. When I first arrived here, I was still talking to my family a bit because I was in temporary accommodation. I was pretty much isolated from everyone, including all my friends. When I moved here, I was still a bit on and off with my family. But my Key Worker helped me a lot with this.

Expectations vs reality
Georgia with the other Resident Reps in the Youth Council
The YMCA DownsLink Group Youth Council

Before moving in, I thought the staff were going to be nosey and check in on me all the time. But they weren’t. You can kind of pick the level of support you need. When I’d have a depressive episode or something, they checked on me lots. I told them that if you check on me every day, you’ll actually make me feel worse. If I need to be checked on every day, I’ll come and tell you. And they were ok with that. They know that everyone is different, needs different things and has different boundaries. The key workers we have now are really good.

Resident Rep

I’m the Resident Rep for this project. We have meetings and people can say what they want with no staff there. Some people are quite shy about saying how they feel so when there’s no staff there, I can write it down and let the staff know anonymously.

I wanted to be a Rep because I know a lot of people who are scared to say their opinion, whereas I’m not. I am quite brutally honest which is helpful for me and the other residents. I also take everybody’s point of view into account, not just the residents. I understand that the staff have to do a lot of things that are not up to them. You shouldn’t be a Rep if you can’t take other people’s opinions into account and listen to them. You don’t have to agree but you at least have to listen.

In our meetings we’ve also spoken about organising more activities at our place, which I think is valid because there’s nothing on at the moment. We’d also like some more common spaces for us to use whenever we want. Apparently they’re making one of the rooms here into a space we can use.

Youth Council
Georgia talking to the YMCA DownsLink Group Board of Trustees with the Youth Council
Georgia speaking to the YMCA Board of Trustees

Youth Council is where the Resident Reps from all the different projects meet to discuss things that are important to us and other residents. In our first meeting, we wrote loads of things that we wanted to talk about and we’re still going through them. Last meeting we spoke a lot about rent. We’ve also talked before about guests staying and maintenance in our projects.

It’s been interesting meeting people from the other projects. We’ve seen the other houses through videos which was good to understand what each place is like and talk about what we each have/don’t have.

I feel like I’ve seen changes happen since I’ve been involved and I think a lot of things are in the process of happening right now, which is really good.

Getting involved with other YMCA activities

When I first moved in, I went to chaplaincy. They encouraged me to go because I was really shy and I obviously didn’t know anyone yet so I thought it would be the most awkward thing. But I kept going and then I made friends there.

I also did the DownsLink Challenge last year which was really good. My little brother did it with me because I wanted to walk with someone I knew. My family also came and met us at the finish line. I took part because wanted to raise money for YMCA and also I walk a lot so I knew I could complete the challenge… and the views were really nice! I raised about £100 in one day. Next time I want to raise even more!

Life now…
Georgia, another resident and staff in the woods during the DownsLink Challenge walk
Georgia and some of the YMCA team during the DownsLink Challenge

Compared to when I first got here, things are so much better. I was in a really bad place and when I look back, I’m like oh wow, how did I get through that? I’m doing a lot better now and I’m even planning to move on in September. I’m moving in with my best friend. If I didn’t have the help from here, I don’t think I would be able to live independently again because last time I tried it went the worst way it could.

I’ve learnt a lot about budgeting since living here. I never used to be able to do it. I’ve also learnt to plan stuff and remember appointments. I have ADHD so I struggle with appointments as I often forget about them and then I feel really bad that I’ve forgotten and beat myself up about it.

I’m also learning to rely on other people a bit more. It’s a skill that I’ve learnt here. And to ask for help because I never used to.

Advice to my younger self

If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d say don’t be scared to ask people for help. My mum always said that I was fiercely independent, even as a small child. But sometimes you need others to help you do certain things. Back then I felt like I’d inconvenience anybody if I asked for even the smallest thing. But you shouldn’t be scared to ask for help.

What’s next?

Before I move out, I want to do as much as can for the other residents. Hopefully when I leave, somebody similar will take over as Resident Rep.

I think I might be a bit nostalgic when I leave but I don’t think I’m going to miss the everyday. I will probably miss the people though.

I think YMCA has been a stepping stone for me. I’m not stopping here, but it’s helped me get started with the rest of my life.

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