Sophia, YMCA Swansea – WINNER
Sophia Zahra first came to YMCA Swansea when she was 17 years old, during one of her lowest points in her life.
Home educated from the age of 12, Sophia became a young carer for her terminally ill mother. After her mother passed away, this event sparked a chain reaction of challenges in Sophia’s life.
Sophia joined YMCA Swansea’s gym in 2015 while solely caring for her grandmother alongside juggling studying for her A-Levels. She had developed a myriad of mental health problems as a result of experiencing social isolation and losing her mother, struggling for several years with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder.
The death of Sophia’s grandmother had a monumental effect and she failed her exams. Consequently, she found herself not only struggling with mental health issues but jobless and facing homelessness.
Sophia was referred to the Y-Engage Project. With a determination to achieve, she began a work placement on the Young Carers Project. She developed a passion to help and support the young carers, recognising many of their challenges. After her placement, Sophia secured employment at YMCA Swansea and finally completed her A-Levels
Her public speaking and passionate campaigning for mental health awareness have resulted in Sophia becoming an inspiration and a pioneering leader.