When I left school, during the summer holidays, the difficulties started within a short time period. I was close to being homeless and was just about to start college. At just 16, I was living in my family home, without my family, and without a safe front door. The front door was literally taped on and I worried constantly about strangers who would look through the letterbox.
The day I moved to YMCA Derbyshire was the day I started college. Leading up to Christmas that year, I enjoyed being part of the activities put on by YMCA staff. I felt shy at first, but playing football with the other residents once a week helped me to come out of my shell. After Christmas, I was beginning to feel more confident. I worked closely with YMCA Derbyshire’s Health and Wellbeing team and became a volunteer for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. As well as that, I became involved in the weekly Sewing Club, where I learned how to stitch-up my clothes, make bags, coasters and a kilt. I felt proud of my work. Shortly after, I began to volunteer for Derby County Community Trust, which led to me becoming involved in the YMCA and Toyota Working Assets Programme.
Life is good now, I’m doing well with my apprenticeship and I have a safe place to live after moving out of the YMCA. I was recently picked to take part in England’s Street Football team, where I played in the Homeless World Cup in Portugal.
This was an exciting challenge for me, I had the opportunity at Toyota to build my CV. I gained confidence in the workplace and applied for jobs and apprenticeships. I spent my time in the HR department, which allowed me to gain valuable experience. Undoubtedly, this led to me being accepted onto an apprenticeship in January 2018 at Babington. I completed the Toyota Programme and felt a huge sense of achievement. I’ve come a long way in a short space of time and I’m determined to climb the ladder in HR and gain more qualifications along the way.
I recently won the ‘We Believe Award’ at the YMCA England & Wales Youth Matters awards, which has enabled me to start learning to drive. I am honestly loving life right now and still can’t believe how far I’ve come. If you had asked me at the start if I could have accomplished all that I have done, I would have said ‘not a chance’. A big thank you to the Health and Wellbeing team at YMCA Derbyshire, as it all started with me taking part in activities. There is no looking back now.