Alice is 22 years of age and local to the area where the Project operates. She is currently unemployed and lives with her mum and her ‘fella’.
She left school at 16 years with 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades B to U. She never really enjoyed school and says ‘I messed about a lot. I didn’t like rules and messed about with friends on the streets’. She started using drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and pills from the age of 14 or 15 years. In her words, ‘I messed about a lot and came to the notice of the police regularly as a missing person, being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting and for being violent. I just didn’t give a shit and felt that no one was on my side. I was spending £60 or so a week on drugs and drink and often got the money off my mum, who I never got on with’.
Despite ‘sailing close to the wind’ she has no criminal convictions, although she received a number of warnings from the police.
She acknowledges, ‘I had anger management issues and was so argumentative and unhappy.
It is apparent that things changed dramatically for Alice when she became involved in the Ynot Project. She says, ‘A local police officer referred me to Sharon from the Project and they took an interest in me. At first I thought ‘what a load of bollocks’ and thought they were ‘idiots’, but Sharon and others on the Project never gave up on me. I just didn’t know how to take her, as someone taking me for who I am and taking an interest in ME was a strange concept for me. She talked to me lots and listened – which was new to me. She seemed to ‘get me’ and after a while I trusted her and others on the Project.
After a while they encouraged me to become involved in drama and I have really enjoyed it. I never thought I would, but it was an amazing thing for me. Besides it being ‘fun’, it has taught me that there is another world out there. I have met new people and gained so much confidence. They threw me in the deep end and I had to act in a show – ME!!! Amazing!
I have written some poems and learnt stuff about myself I didn’t know. I can sing and can have happy thoughts in my head. My confidence is based on achievements, and I know I can do things that I want to do’.
What has changed about you?
‘I was a little shit before I got involved in the Project and I was heading for a serious fall. I suppose I had ADHD and was not a nice person to get involved in. I am off the drugs now – in fact I no longer know where to get them from as I have lost touch with the dealers. I have lots more confidence now, and like being ME more. I no longer get so angry, and know I am a nicer person the get on with.
What is the key?
‘I suppose it is Sharon and others involved in the Project. Sharon has been a mentor to me and knows how to handle me when I go off on one. She never gives up and has faith in me, which I am gaining for myself now. The Project has given me the opportunity to seek and find the help I need when I need. I have been given the opportunity to become involved in activities such as drama and meet new people.
What is the future?
‘I would like to stay involved with the Project and Sharon, as it is important for me to have someone there when things get tough. I am looking at College and want to start my education again, and am considering child care or the performing arts.
Thanks to Sharon and all those involved in the Project I feel I have a future and am determined to make something of myself. It’s ME time!
Project Manager’s Observations
‘Alice’ was one of the first young people I worked with when we were starting out with Ynot Aspire. She had disengaged from all services and was obviously very troubled and had real issues around trust and self-confidence. I could see that she just needed regular support and someone who believed in her and kept chipping away, making it very clear that I was going nowhere and would be there for her if she needed me. It’s been so rewarding watching her self- belief grow, and I know that she’s helped a lot of other young people along the way. Discovering her talents for acting and singing allowed her to explore new ways of expressing herself and I believe that this has played an important part in her journey.