“Being on the street is scary, very scary. When I was about 14 years old, I used to suffer with major anxiety because of bullying in school, I could not go into crowded places at all, I’d stay inside the house 24/7, I wouldn’t leave.”
“I wasn’t able to speak to people properly, because my anxiety kicks in. ‘What do I say? What do I say?’ I couldn’t express myself to my Mum at all, no-one in my family, no friends, or anything.
When I started college, for a few weeks I didn’t really speak at all. Then a few people started approaching me, casually, and I came out of my shell. But my Dad didn’t approve of college, he’s all about money, wanted me to work.
So I wasn’t getting on with my Dad, living with my Mum, but then we argued and she threw me out. Then I was sleeping in shop doorways, park benches, mates’ sofas. Somewhere different every night.
My Mum brought me to YMCA. The staff are amazing, so supportive. If you’re looking down and depressed, they won’t think twice about coming up to you and asking if you’re OK. And if you’re having any trouble they’ll sort you out straight away. I was lucky to be able to join some group therapy sessions that really helped.
I worked at a sandwich shop for a while, now YMCA are paying for my music production lessons. I really want to go back to college and start studying music production again because I was really happy then, it just made me, me.”
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* While Lewis’ story is 100 per cent genuine, a model has been used to protect his identity.