Charlie – One YMCA

Charlie was bullied at a young age by the older children at his secondary school. Because of this, his mental health started to deteriorate and he was advised to visit YMCA.

After his first visit to YMCA, Charlie continued to come back. As well as coming to the youth clubs, he started attending one to one mentoring sessions to help him build up his confidence.

From this Charlie began to take part in more activities and join in with community projects. He even took leadership of his own project where he visited local old people’s homes, cooked them dinner, played bingo and socialised. He organised this after connecting his isolation to theirs.

As well as this Charlie has gone onto become One YMCA’s first Mental Health Champion. Part of this role included delivering youth programmes and workshops, and speaking up for young people.

He became integral with the organisation of the workshops, tailoring them to meet the needs of young people today. The positive impact of this on young people is clear and it’s been found to help them to open up in difficult conversations.

Charlie is no longer the boy who had lost his confidence, but a confident, positive and inspiring person to all.

Alex – YMCA Essex

Alex grew up in a home that was dominated by alcohol abuse. He experienced very little in terms of physical, emotional and financial support, and there was very little money available for basic essential items.

Early on in life, Alex battled with depression but decided at the age of 16 that he wanted to change the course of his life and made the decision to move out. He was offered accommodation at YMCA Colchester who enabled him to do so.

In over a year since joining YMCA Colchester Alex has achieve so much. At such a pivotal time in his life, Alex decided to undertake 3 A-levels, left school with grades AAB and received three offers to study nursing at university.

As well as this, at just 17 years old He has now moved out of YMCA accommodation and has now gone onto volunteering with individuals who suffer from addiction.  Here he continues to gain some insight into his life growing up.

On Mothering Sunday, Alex gave a talk in front of 300 people at Chelmsford Cathedral; an opportunity given to him by the Bishop after hearing his story through YMCA. Alex appeared to have touched the hearts and provided an inspiring voice to the congregation.

YMCA Essex regards Alex as a ‘tenacious’ and ‘resilient’ person who is an inspiration to all.

Drew – YMCA Derbyshire

Drew was abandoned by his family back in 2017, and with the help of social services he was placed at YMCA Derbyshire.

Although initially shy, Drew got joined in with the weekly football sessions. The staff encouraged him to get involved with Derby County Community Trust, where he also became a volunteer and help run their weekly boxercise sessions.

With Derby County Community Trust, Drew played various competitions and was nominated to play in the England Street Football Team. He was selected and played for England in the Street Football World Cup in Portugal in July 2018.

As well as this, Drew took part in various other activities. This included volunteering at the 2017 Greenbelt festival, a role he is reprising this year. He’s helped YMCA secure funding to deliver an inter-generational project as a member of YMCA Derbyshire’s independent residents association. He played an active role in YMCA’s fruitful Communities Orchard Project, and volunteered for YMCA’s Hospitality Team.

Drew’s main goal has been to secure a job and move into shared accommodation. Drew took part in the 26 week Toyota Working Assets Programme. As a result of this, he was offered an HR apprenticeship with Babington in Derby, where he was awarded Employee of the Month for Outstanding Contribution. Drew finally moved in to shared accommodation in February.

Drew shows resilience and strength of character, and staff and residents at YMCA Derby are all inspired by him and his determination.

Joel – City YMCA

At 16 years old Joel left his home after one last argument with his step dad. For a while he slept on friends sofas, but with no money and no stable place to go Joel ended up living on the street for 5 years.

During this time he relied on food banks and small change he earnt from busking with a borrowed guitar. His decided to seek help from YMCA after being urinated on one night whilst asleep on the street.

Joel felt secure at YMCA as they helped him to build a stable life by helping him to find a job and a course at college.

Since being accommodated by YMCA Joel has gone on to receive three offers from university to study music production. Alongside this, he’s set up a record company and is also setting up a development company to help young musicians learn about the music industry, and to record their songs. He even set up a recording studio in his room.

Joel is now making money by producing music and has been able to move out of YMCA accommodation and into student lodgings. He’s recently finished his first year at university and now volunteers his time to support YMCA to fundraise by telling supporters about his story. Joel is also a youth worker on the side, dedicating his free time to help young people; he says he wants young people “to realise their amazing potential from a young age, so that they don’t have to go through what I did”.

Shadin – Y Care International

Shadhin, lives in Astoshpur Pabna. His father was the only member of the family that earned a wage and the household income could not sustain Shadin’s education.

Shadin decided that he was going to get an education anyway. He went to the bank and applied for a stipend so he could continue his education. He passed secondary school with good marks and was determined to continue his education.

He got involved with the Y Care International Project in 2016. The project enabled him to form a gender activist group that helped to educate the community on gender equality and issues such as gender based violence and child marriage.

In October 2017, Shadin created the ‘Promise Foundation’ which aimed to educate his community about the negative effects of child marriage and gender inequalities. Initially the group had 7 members, but this has grown substantially to 103 members. The group has now prevented 17 early marriages happening.

All members of the group voluntarily donate 25 taka (25p) each month which is put towards the running of the organization. They have also taken responsibility of two orphan children and are paying for their education.

Shadin dreams to continue to reduce early marriage, and their next ambition as a project is to expand their work in another region of the country.

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