I first came to to YMCA Derbyshire when I was 16 because of issues at home. I wasn’t getting on with my mum and brother. I moved in here for a few weeks then went back home, then thought it would be better to come back to the YMCA.

Being away from the family was weird, standing on my own two feet was daunting, having to sort out rent and benefits was difficult to start with but staff helped with it, they sat down with me and explained it all to me.

When I first came here, I was trying to find myself and trying to fit in, which is when the problems started. I was rebelling against staff as I thought people would think I was cool. Then I got asked to leave.

I’ve sofa surfed, been in B&Bs and pretty much every housing association in Derby but I’ve grown up with being around YMCA because of the nine years I’ve been in and out. I’m comfortable here and I can be myself here. I’m not at the point where I can acknowledge when I’ve done something wrong and can change things so that I don’t do it again.

The YMCA has helped me become the person that I am now.

 

I can come in and say that I am having a bad day but staff will respect that and talk to me. You give what you want to take out.

The majority of my long-term friendships are with people that I have met at the YMCA – they started from a little thing like holding a door open for someone or asking for a light.

I look at where I am now to where I was this time last year. I was doing nothing, smoking drugs, just passing the day. I started going to the Allotment and Ant and Sharna helped me out and I just recently passed the Toyota Working Assets Programme.

People here would be pleased for me if I got a job. When I do get one, I will still find time to come to the YMCA. It’s like me and the YMCA are an elastic band – I’ll go so far and then come back. It feels like home.