Rianna was trapped in an abusive relationship for several years. Her boyfriend beat her so badly that she ended up in hospital more than once.
Then one day, when she was just 17 years old, Rianna summoned up all her courage and walked out the door. She didn’t have anywhere to go. But she was brave, despite struggling with mental health issues. And she was determined that no one would ever hurt her again.
When she came to YMCA, Rianna told us she felt safe for the first time since she was a little girl. At YMCA Rianna has a roof over her head and the support she never had while she was living in fear of her boyfriend.
“I have this fantastic YMCA keyworker – John. He’s there for me whenever I need him. I trust him totally. He even helped me get into college. I know he really believes in me”, she says.
John’s support and encouragement is crucial to Rianna’s progress. Rianna had always wanted to be a beauty therapist, but never managed to do it because life with her boyfriend was so frightening she lost all her belief in herself. John has been by Rianna‘s side every step of the way as she’s studied for her beauty therapy qualification to enable her to support herself in the future. As she explains: “He shows me what I’m capable of and sets targets with me.”
Rianna has been at YMCA for a year now and will soon be going into YMCA ‘move on’ accommodation designed to help young people take the first step to independent living. Rianna is a very private person, so she is really looking forward to a bit more space of her own. And because she is moving on, Rianna’s room at YMCA will be free for another homeless young person, like her, in urgent need.
Her keyworker John has organised the new room for her, she says: “I owe so much to him. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without his help.”
You can also read many other incredibly inspiring stories in our Autumn 2016 edition of Stronger Together about more young people whose lives have been changed.