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Young Peoples Support Foundation

CONTACT

YPSF (CCP)

52 Oldham Street

Manchester

M4 1LE

Tel: 0161 228 7654

Fax: 0161 236 5081

infomcr@centrepoint.org

YPSF (Signpost)

St Andrew's Hall, Brownley Rd

Wythenshawe

Manchester

M22 0DW

Tel: 0161 436 5432

Fax: 0161 437 1055

infomcr@centrepoint.org

16/17 referral duty line

07961 586 822

9am to 5pm

Monday to Friday

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"Without YPSF, I wouldn't be where I am now" - Sara's Story

2011

Sara was just 18 when her mum died of breast cancer, and at a time when most teenagers are excited about entering adult life, Sara was low, depressed and experiencing deep feelings of grief.

Her grief made Sara feel incredibly alone, and the pressure of losing a loved one caused arguments between Sara and her dad that became progressively worse. When, eventually, Sara’s dad felt able to move on and find a new partner, Sara was still hurt and confused by the loss of her mum and struggled to accept a new woman in her home.

Eventually the arguments and stress became too much for Sara to bear, and she felt she had no option but to leave the family home. The next six months were spent sleeping wherever she could find a space. If she was lucky, that was on friends’ sofas; but more often than not, Sara found herself on the streets battling to survive, and watching many of the people she shared her predicament with die from drug or alcohol misuse, or simply succumbing to the coldness and harsh conditions of sleeping rough.

“The stress of living on the streets was unbearable,” says Sara. “I had to keep moving just to stay alive and keep warm.”

After six months of sleeping rough and sofa surfing, Sara was finally given a flat with a housing association in Wythenshawe. Although she was thrilled to finally have her own home, Sara felt lost without the support of her mum.

“I just needed help with living alone,” she says. “Having your own home is such a major step in your life, and not having my mum to help me made it so hard. I’d gone from living with my mum and dad to being homeless and now I suddenly had bills to pay, and washing and ironing to do. I was desparate for a mum figure to give me the advice I needed.”

Then a friend told Sara about YPSF.

“I went into YPSF two weeks after getting my flat to ask if they could help me to learn about budgeting and things like that, and straight away I was given my own support worker, Lindsey Kelly,” remembers Sara. “At that point, I felt that I’d lost my way in life and had no real path to follow. But then I met Lindsey, and I found so much comfort in the support and time she gave to me. From that moment on, she wasn’t just there to help me budget and teach me how to live independently – she taught me that it was alright to grieve.

“For the first time, I started to believe in myself again and although my mum wasn’t around, I started to feel that she was with me. I wanted to make a go of my life so she would be proud of me.”

So, with Lindsey’s help, Sara set about organising her home and planning her future. “YPSF offered me three years of support, and it was such a relief to know that I’d have that help on a long-term basis,” she says. “Lindsey was the mum figure I’d been craving, and she helped me with everything. I had a bit of an idea what to do, but when it came to water and gas bills, I thought, oh my God, how do I do it? But Lindsey was there to help me with it all and expain all my options, like setting up direct debits or payment meters.”

But, more importantly, Lindsey gave Sara the confidence she needed to plan her long-term future.

“Knowing that I could run my own home gave me more confidence in other things – I knew that if I could live independently, then nothing could stop me,” says Sara. “When Lindsey first suggested it, I thought, college, me? But she really encouraged me and for the first time I actually believed that I was capable of achieving something. And once I’d started there was no stopping me!”

So, happily settled in her flat and with a new-found confidence and optimism, Sara enrolled on an Access to University course, studying psychology and sociology. Having passed with flying colours, Sara was accepted at Manchester Metropolitan University and, after a three year degree course, is now the proud owner of a BA Hons in Social Change – following the Health and Social Care Route.

“The support of everyone at YPSF and the belief they had in me gave me the strength I needed to get through those three years,” says Sara. “I was nervous about committing three years of my life to do something as big as a degree, but their encouragement really helped me through. It was tough, but Mandy, the project manager at YPSF, gave me lots of help with my coursework and even helped with research for my dissertation, which was about how YPSF helps to empower young people, by handing out questionnaires for me. I’ve never told them this, but I actually dedicated my dissertation to Lindsey and Mandy!”

Armed with her degree, Sara secured a job working as care assistant for old people and people with disabilities, visiting them in their homes and helping them to live independently.

“It’s long hours and hard work, but I absolutely love it,” says Sara, who’s now 24. “Because I’m working with people in their own homes I get to know them and build relationships, and it’s so rewarding to know that my being there helps them to stay independent.”

Despite working 14 hour shifts up to six days a week, Sara is an active member of the tenants’ forum for the housing association that runs her flat, attending regular meetings and travelling around the country to appeal for funding for the association. She’s also acted as an ambassador for YPSF, travelling to London with its directors to build relationships with similar organisations and helping with stands on open days.

“I basically try just to help them as much as they helped me,” she says. “I was a lonely 18 year old without a clue how to manage my own home and they turned my life around, so if I can help in any way then I will.”

But Sara’s commitment to YPSF and the people it is set up to help doesn’t end at helping out on open days. “My ultimate ambition is to become a homeless support worker,” she says. “Thanks to YPSF I’ve learnt skills that can help me for the rest of my life, and I want to pass on everything I know. Thanks to them, I have the confidence and experience to help other young people achieve their own life goals. I now believe that anything is possible because they believe in you 100%.”

As well as her degree and a promising career, Sara’s family relationships are also firmly on track. “I get on so well with my dad now, he phones me twice a day: once in the morning to make sure I’m up, and then at the end of the day to say goodnight. To be honest, if I’d stayed at home I probably wouldn’t have been able to go to university because money was tight, so I’d probably have had to get a job. But my dad is so proud of me, and everything that’s happened has brought us closer together.

“And it’s all thanks to YPSF – without them, I just wouldn’t be where I am now.”

View all Young People's Stories

01/02/2017

YPSF Merges with Centrepoint

2015

"I loved it there, the staff were so friendly" - Natasha's Story

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