Jake left home at 16 years old and moved into a friend’s house. When that didn’t work out, a youth worker helped him to apply for a place at Hillbrook House in Redhill.
“It was a really difficult time,” says Jake. “I was out on my own and yet I still couldn’t start living an independent life – I didn’t really know how to.”
In February 2013, he moved into Hillbrook House and was assigned a Key Worker to offer him help and support.
“For the first time, I had the freedom to try new things and to make my own mistakes,” Jake remembers. “The staff were strict but caring – the kindest people you could meet – and they would do anything they could to help. But it certainly wasn’t easy.”
“In the early days, I went through a lot of growing up. I would stay in bed every day and I struggled to manage my finances. I’d blow all my money very quickly and then have nothing to eat. One of the most useful things I learned at Hillbrook House was to spend money on food wisely. In the end, you’ve got to want to help yourself.”
Jake progressed from Hillbrook House to our supported Move-on project in Lynwood Road last year. These bedsits provide a less intensive housing support option for those still in housing need and he spent 10 months here while he completed a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Public Services at East Surrey College.
“The supported Move-on project was very different to Hillbrook House, but really good,” says Jake. “It felt homelier and I had more time on my own. The staff were still helpful but it was up to me to drive things forward. I had to make a plan and figure out what to do with my life.”
Jake, 20, has recently moved into a flat of his own. His ambition is to train for the fire service, but in the meantime is hopeful that he has found a job which will help him pay his bills and support his new independent lifestyle.
“Things are looking up,” he says. “I don’t even remember the person I was when I first moved into Hillbrook House. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the YMCA – I could be anywhere right now. Instead, I’m feeling optimistic and life is good.”