Three young people from a YMCA in Salford have featured in a BBC Radio 5 Live documentary in which they share their inspiring stories of how a green-fingered YMCA scheme has transformed their lives from troubled childhood to a brighter future.
Speaking to Nihal Arthanayake, Tyler, Kieran and Joe, aged between 16 and 19, each described their difficult upbringings, the challenges they face and how the horticulture programme offered through YMCA Training, has provided them with the essential building blocks, encompassing focus, education, support and friendship, to better their lives.
Tyler, 16, has lived in foster care from the age of four and described his upbringing as negative and the root cause of his severe anger issues. Currently living in a care home, his enjoyment of gardening coupled with a desire to turn his life around, meant that he was instantly drawn to the project. Since enrolling and spending time at YMCA, Tyler has not only felt more settled but he has found gardening to be the perfect therapy as it offers a way of controlling his anger and nurture self-love.
Having experienced a difficult upbringing, Kieran was subsequently placed in the care of his grandmother by social services at the age of 10 and struggled in school. Now 17, Kieran first turned to YMCA for support with English and Maths in mind but his focus quickly turned to horticulture. The project has given him an array of skills and an invaluable boost in confidence. Today, Kieran lives with the philosophy that, “Every day is a new day and you got the opportunity to learn something new.”
Joe, who has learning difficulties, knew that YMCA was the perfect place to change his future. Joe’s struggles started at an early age. He found making friendships difficult, experienced low confidence, and had a tough home life. After doing gardening for his family, Joe knew that the horticulture programme was the perfect fit and with YMCA’s support, it has helped him get him back on his feet. When asked if he loved himself, Joe said: “Yes, now I have a purpose. I’m about halfway up the mountain on who I want to be. I feel like I’m at home and welcome.”
YMCA Training’s range of horticulture apprenticeships and study programmes, award young people with an array of opportunities, from landscaping and planning gardens to agriculture and crop production.