YMCA Mental Health Appeal

“When my Dad died, a piece of me went with him, and that changed me.”


YMCA Mental Health Appeal

“When my Dad died, a piece of me went with him, and that changed me.”


1 in 8 young people aged between 5 and 19 are suffering with mental health difficulties
Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK
Today 1.25 million young people are affected compared to 675,000 in 1999.

As deep and dark as it sounds, if I hadn’t had all the support from Donna and YMCA, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.

£22 could pay for a warm bed for the night for a young person
£50 could give a young person one hour of specialist care from a counsellor
£105 could pay for five young people to trained for our peer-to-peer service

Meet Jimmy. Hear his story in his own words …

My childhood wasn’t the greatest. It started off pretty good – until my parents started to squabble and fight over things.  So I just sat in my room all the time.  I think that’s when my anxiety and depression started.

My parents divorced when I was about eight years old.  I was passed from pillar to post quite a lot – changing schools and where I lived, frequently.

Later, I got the choice of living permanently with my Mum or my Dad.  I chose my Mum, partly because she needed my help; she is disabled, and I could help round the house, as there was no-one else around.

But then when I was 15, I decided to go and live with my Dad.

Worse to come

Then the worst thing happened when I was only 20 – my Dad was murdered.  My life just kind of crumbled after that.

I’d been in a relationship for three years – we were living together and engaged and everything.  But my Dad’s death was very difficult for me, and for us both.  I was tired and anxious all the time; we split up.

I had a decent job, but I had to make regular long journeys to attend a court case following my Dad’s death.  It went on for weeks and weeks.  So I had no choice but to quit my job.

I was also trying to sort things out with my step-mum and my Dad’s family, as they were all fighting over his money and his possessions.

I was still talking to my step-mum, and they didn’t like that at all.  So they kicked me out.  That’s when I was forced out on to the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings, cold and hungry, occasionally kipping on an old school-mate’s sofa.

I went to the Council day after day, but it takes time for them to find you a place, meaning I was homeless for nearly four months.  Eventually, they sent me to YMCA.  It’s wicked.  I couldn’t ask for a better place.

First impressions

It was nice to be in my own cosy bed.  But because I’ve been so used to sleeping on a sofa or a hard surface, the beds seem really uncomfortable.

I didn’t sleep well – I just hadn’t grieved properly for my Dad.  I locked myself away in my room, 24/7.  Emotionally, I was building up a very big wall.

YMCA’s counsellors helped me break down that wall.  They gave me practical help, too, like money planning, food shopping, and things like that.  They’ve given me a flat in here as well; I got that within the first month of being here, so it just goes to show if you can be a good person in these kind of places you do get some good things out of it.

My keyworker Donna was very warm and open; she looked at me as a real, individual person – not judging me.

As for the future, I’d like to keep on this path of finding myself, rather than trying to be someone else. I just want a family, a house and a dog. That’s all I want. More than that, one day I’d like to use my experiences to help other homeless young people with mental health difficulties.