Dean came to stay at YMCA Hillbrook House via the ‘leaving care’ team when a foster placement broke down in August 2017.

“I was homeless for a couple of days until my Personal Advisor recommended me to the YMCA,” says Dean, 20. “I’ve slept rough on the street before during my teens and it was hard. The attitude that people have towards the homeless and the looks that they give you are worse than the cold and the discomfort. I was so grateful to avoid going through that again.”

YMCA East Surrey provides opportunities for people facing homelessness to access housing and support that meets their individual needs, either at Hillbrook House or our Move On accommodation. In the past year, we have provided a home to 91 young people facing homelessness in East Surrey and deliver over 300 hours of support to residents each month.

“Being at Hillbrook House was tough at first, but I made a lot of friends and became more independent,” says Dean. “I learned how to cook and do my laundry, pay bills and manage my time. Will, my Support Worker, was great. He always had time for me and would cheer me up if I was feeling down.”

Dean’s ten months at YMCA Hillbrook House were hugely transformative. After regular sessions with a counsellor, he found support and acceptance from the Housing team when he started the process to make a transgender change.

Everyone has been amazing, both with the practical help they’ve given me and the emotional support.

Our Housing staff helped Dean enrol into college and signed him up with the Pathway to Employment project – an intensive, targeted and wrap-around service of interventions that support people with significant barriers to move closer to the job market or into work.

“Having joined us at a difficult time in his life, Dean has come on in leaps and bounds and left Hillbrook House a humble and very likeable person,” says Lee Fabry, YMCA Head of Housing. “I could not be prouder of Dean and the person he has become.”

Now living in Supported Lodging, Dean has recently gained employment and, despite the challenges he’s faced, he retains a positive attitude about the future.

“Working is so rewarding. It isn’t just about the money – it’s about getting out there, making friends and taking care of myself,” says Dean. “I want to save for a car and, within a couple of years, I’d like to have my own place.”

“Without the YMCA, I would definitely have been on the streets again. Instead, I have a job I enjoy, and I’ve been told I can always go back to Hillbrook House for help or advice. The door is always open.”

Read more about YMCA Hillbrook House