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. I was 16, 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 the YMCA 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, so I became a volunteer for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. I also became involved in the weekly Sewing Club, where I learned how to stitch-up my clothes, and make bags, coasters and a kilt. I felt proud of my work. Shortly after, I then began to volunteer for Derby County Community Trust, a path which led to me becoming involved in the Toyota Working Assets Programme.
I had the opportunity at Toyota to build my CV, gain confidence in the workplace and apply for jobs and apprenticeships. I spent my time in the HR department, which allowed me to gain valuable experience and undoubtedly 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.
Life is good now, I’m four months into my apprenticeship and I have a safe place to live after moving out of the YMCA in January. I’ve recently been picked to take part in England’s Street Football team, where I’ll be playing in a European football tournament in Portugal. This is an exciting challenge for me. I’ll also be volunteering at the annual Greenbelt Festival for a second year running, helping to maintain the upkeep of the site.
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 am also hoping to get a part-time job to be able to start learning to drive as this will help me with new opportunities. 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.