Conner is 16 years old and has lived in the area all his life. He currently lives with his parents and brothers. He has recently left school and is looking forward to going to a local College in September to study Health & Social Care.
He is clearly a shy person, who recognises such; as did his teachers at school. He is however extremely bright and aware of what is going on around him in relation to steps he can do to off-set his shyness, and the opportunities available to help build his confidence and capabilities.
He says, ‘Last summer one of my teachers at school told me about the Ynot Aspire Project and the work they do in the community. Most interestingly I was told there may be volunteer opportunities, which would give me new skills and help me build my confidence.’
‘Without any hesitation I went along and met the staff, who were really friendly and listened to me and what I was looking for. It was quite quickly decided that I would get involved in filming a video about homelessness. This was a subject I knew nothing about, so I was very keen to get involved. It also involved my meeting and working with other young people who I didn’t know. This was all very challenging to me and I was a little nervous.’
‘I was really surprised about how it was done. First of all, we all had a direct role in making the video. We were in charge and all the big decisions were down to us. We had to carry out lots of research, which was eye opening! I never knew that there was so much homelessness about in our area and what the effects of homelessness on young people, aged around 16 to 20 years are. It made me grateful to have the life I have and opened my eyes to how well off I am and how important it is not to judge people.’
‘I took on the role of Director, enjoying the extra responsibility and felt proud of what I was doing. I even became an actor and took on the role of a homeless young person. This was extremely challenging for me in terms of my confidence levels, as it was something I would never have done before!’
What did I get out of it?
Well I learnt lots of new technical skills in relation to directing and producing a video from scratch. I learnt new key board skills and how to use new technologies. I have no doubts that these will stay with me and help me in the future at College and future work. I met some great young people and will certainly keep in touch and stay friends with them.
I also enjoyed being a ‘volunteer’ and putting something back into my local community. We all gained a great deal of satisfaction in what we did – to say, ‘We did that! That gives you a real buzz!’
Most of all it has helped me build my confidence and I am really grateful to the Ynot team for that! I know that with support, guidance and a team approach, anything is possible – including directing, acting and producing a video from scratch!
What am I up to now?
I am still a volunteer with Ynot. I spotted an advert from Ynot looking for volunteers to help run a Webchat for local young people who may be facing difficulties. I get in touch and they quickly got back to me and it was so rewarding to know they wanted me to get involved. I have received proper training and we go live soon.
Why has Ynot Aspire worked for me?
It’s the people who are there who make the real difference. Sharon and Paula are brilliant. Most importantly they listen. That is so important to young people such as me. They also take time out to listen and act on what you say. They seem to understand what young peoples’ problems are, and what is needed to sort them out. They also care – and that means a lot! They also help young people to help themselves. Give them the tools to help themselves. They also put a lot of trust in you, which means you have been given respect and freedom to put things right. I also enjoy meeting and volunteering with other young people. It brings me out of myself and gives me lots of confidence to face the future.
What would I like to say to the Ynot Aspire team?
Two things. Thank you! And please keep up the good work! There are so many homeless young people in this area; and so many young people with problems to help in the way you have helped me’.