Looking back at our young people's stories from 2023 - YMCA DownsLink Group

Looking back at our young people’s stories from 2023

A collage of faces of the young people whose stories we have shared this year

As 2023 is slowly coming to an end, we’ve pulled together a compilation of young people’s stories from across the year to show the difference we can make.

While every story is different, there is a common theme of resilience, determination and bravery. With our support, each of the young people below has overcome significant challenges to get to where they are today. By donating to us and sharing our content, you’ve also played a part in transforming their lives. Scroll down to read each of their inspiring stories…

Mollie’s story

Mollie, Dialogue client who shares her story. Mollie is a young person who used our services“I am proud to say now, post-counselling, that I feel empowered, prepared and able to live my life to the absolute fullest.”

Mollie was struggling with anxious thoughts that were taking over her life and stopping her from being independent. She felt stuck and constantly feared she was in danger. When Mollie started seeing a YMCA Dialogue counsellor, everything started to change. Mollie was supported to overcome her anxiety and gain control over her life. She’s regained her confidence and is looking forward to travelling and going to university.

Read Mollie’s full story here. 

Ben’s story

Ex resident, young person, Ben standing smiling at the camera outside a cafe“I was in such a dark place. I spent so many years wanting to kill myself, I couldn’t see happiness and thought there was no hope. But then the lovely people at YMCA gave me a nice home to live in and a safe space.”

Ben had a difficult time growing up and was thrown out of home at just 15. He ended up in a hostel with adults which impacted his mental health. Through the perseverance of a teacher, Ben was given a home in our 24-hour supported accommodation and life got better.

Read Ben’s full story here. 

Nader’s story

Nader, one of the young people living in our supported housing. He is smiling holding up two certificates“My advice to someone who is moving into YMCA is… don’t be afraid for anything. You come and meet new friends, they will all be your family. We can support each other.”

Nader left his home country when he was just 14, and after a difficult journey he arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied asylum seeking child. Nader was given a home at YMCA DownsLink Group and was supported to learn English, attend college and take part in lots of activities. Nader has a strong desire to help other people and has been volunteering for a food kitchen for months.

Read Nader’s full story here. 

Alysha’s story

Alysha, a young person we supported. She is stood in the garden smiling against a flowery wall“I’ve changed a lot since moving into YMCA. I’m a lot more open with people and I’m a lot better at talking about my feelings. I didn’t even think I was worth listening to. But now I know I am and I love myself now.”

Alysha had a difficult childhood, full of arguments and tension, which led to her battling with her mental health. Thrown out with nowhere to go, she sofa surfed at friend’s houses until she was given a home with us. With the support of YMCA, Alysha has turned her life around. She’s grown into an independent, determined young person who’s about to start university to train as mental health nurse.

Read Alysha’s story here.

Dee’s story

Dee, a young person in our care. She is smiling holding up a fist in her boxing gym“Since being at YMCA, I have learnt to build relationships, I have matured, I can problem solve and I feel that I am more independent.”

Meet dreams of being a champion. She wants to represent Britain as part of the GB boxing team and win medals. Despite facing many challenges as a teenager, with the support of YMCA DownsLink Group and Hailsham Boxing Club, she’s thriving and is working hard to turn her dreams into reality.

Read Dee’s full story here. 

Josh’s story

Josh, one of the young people who lived in our supported houses, he is sat on the sofa smiling.“I’m really thankful for what the YMCA have done and how they’ve helped me progress as a person. For anyone my age facing something similar, the YMCA is definitely the place to go.”

A year ago, Josh was facing homelessness. He was having trouble at home and didn’t get on with his parents. After moving into our supported accommodation, he took every opportunity he could to help others in a similar situation.

Read Josh’s full story here. 

Mapalo’s story

Mapalo, one of the young people that lived in our supported accomodation, smiling in her room“YMCA is a family. I have been given a safe space, it’s so much more than just a roof over my head.”

A heart attack permanently altered Mapalo’s mum’s personality. Forced to go to school with a suitcase full of her belongings, Mapalo would present herself as homeless. Things changed when she turned 18 and was given a home at YMCA. Our staff did all they could to help her achieve her dream of becoming a midwife.

Read Mapalo’s full story here. 

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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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