Emily is 17 years old, single and was born in Italy. She is currently living alone in sheltered accommodation and studying at College.
She says, ‘My life up to now has been chaotic. My relationship with my mother has not been the best one, and although we love each other, she hasn’t really been there to support me. I didn’t perform well at school at all, as there was too much going on in my life for me to focus on it. I have ambitions, but too many bad things keep getting in the way of them.
‘I left home to live with a local lad. We didn’t have any real money and we shared a single bed. Suffice to say it didn’t last and I would have been on the streets if it wasn’t for my Grandad who let me sleep on his sofa. That was OK, but I never had any money and it’s hard to exist without money.’
‘For example, I would go to College hungry and have to watch so called friends eat and waste food. Not one of them noticed I wasn’t buying food at lunchtime or eating. I couldn’t do that. Watch someone hungry and without any food. I am too proud to ask for food, so I would just sit there and watch them eat and leave food behind not eaten. That hurt me lots.’
‘I still only have the clothes I am standing in now. These are the same trainers I had years ago. I have my pride though and won’t do anything daft to get money, although it hurts lots to have nothing. Just what you are standing up in.’
‘As a result, it has been hard to motivate myself to attend College – when you are hungry and haven’t got the smart clothes others have. Just what you are standing up in. It’s hard to sleep properly on a sofa, and my Grandad had always made it clear to me that it was a short-term arrangement.’
When did it change for me?
When a real friend told me about Ynot Aspire. Before than no one at all was helping me, so I had nothing to lose. My first impressions were – ‘these people know what they are talking about and care’. It was so true. They carried out an assessment and immediately informed that there were benefits open to me. Suddenly I had some money in my purse to buy food. Can you imagine how good that makes you feel?
They also put me in touch and referred me to other organisations such as Stepping Stones. Meetings took place with agencies such as Social Services and I am being supported by a ‘Section 20 Joint Protocol’, which means that I have roof over my head, people are listening to me and I am receiving the support that I want and need’.
What happened next?
Well as I said my benefits were sorted out and amazingly I have been provided with a home to live in! Whilst I will have to share it in the future with another girl, the bedroom is mine and my own bed to sleep in and stretch out in. I have a little money left over, which I manage and mostly spend on food, plus essentials such as toiletries. Whilst there is none left over for things like new fancy clothes, I am so happy and pleased!
Paula at Ynot Aspire is standing by me and she helped me to stay at College. I can get my head around it now. Paula has told me that there may be a way to get some new shoes and clothes, but my main priority is to do well in College. As I have said, I have ambitions and know I have a good brain I can use. I don’t want to depend on benefits or live in temporary accommodation. My mind set now is work hard and be the best person I can be!
Why has Ynot Aspire worked for me?
I suppose been what my mother should have been to me. Listened to me, supported me and now giving me the confidence to make something of myself. I know it will continue to be hard, but with Paula’s and all those other amazing people from the other agencies behind me, I have confidence to move forward.
What would I like to say to the Ynot Aspire team?
A big thank you of course, but mostly reassurance that what you are doing is right and what lots young people in this area like me need. Please keep it up, because you know what you are doing!