Evie was just seventeen years old when she was made homeless by a closure order, obtained by Surrey Police, on her family home in 2020. She began a cycle of sofa surfing at the houses of friends and family.
“I felt worthless and helpless to do anything about the situation,” Evie explains. “I lost my possessions and even our family dog had to be re-homed. I struggled with the thought that I might never live with my mum again.”
A social worker put her in touch with the YMCA Housing team at Hillbrook House in Redhill.
“I was so nervous when I went for my interview,” says Evie, “but I got loads of reassurance from my Key Worker, Will Andrews, who was a legend. Being given a place made me feel both happy and scared. Interacting wasn’t easy for me. I had my guard right up, but having one-to-one support made all the difference. Will kept checking in with me to make sure I was OK. He helped to make me feel like me again. Over time, I learned to open up a little and I’ve made friends with other residents.”
By 2022, Evie had progressed through our Resident Journey successfully enough to be offered a place in one of the YMCA Move-On houses, giving her a new-found independence.
YMCA Head of Housing, Lee Fabry, says:
“The need for more supported and affordable housing is huge, not only locally but UK wide. Young people are referred to us for many reasons, including family breakup, mental health, substance misuse, leaving care, offending history or seeking asylum. Our vision remains to provide opportunities for young people to develop to their full potential with a focus on those who are vulnerable or face disadvantage.
This year, by adding the new property in Redhill to our portfolio, we’ve increased our capacity to provide accommodation and support to 75 young people. And we are still actively looking to develop more housing in East Surrey.”
Evie gained employment as a part-time cleaner with YMCA East Surrey and, one year on, is nearing the top of the local housing register. In March 2023, she took part in the YMCA West Dorset Three Peaks Challenge, successfully tackling a ten mile trek and climbing three of Dorset’s most prominent landmarks en route. She says:
“It was challenging but so rewarding. I felt like I really achieved something. After walking so many miles across beautiful seaside cliff tops, we stayed in an amazing castle – something I’ve never experienced before!”
Lola Registe, Move-On Housing Support Officer for YMCA East Surrey, says:
“Evie has grown as a person. She works extremely hard in her job, which motivates and inspires the other residents. She’s more confident, sociable and positive, pays her rent on time and exhibits self-care. When Evie moves on, we will support her with help and advice, from assisting with getting a white goods grant to physically moving her into a new place. We’re so proud of everything she has achieved.”
“The YMCA staff are good people. They helped me believe I can make something of my life. I used to be angry but now I try to forgive and forget. Moving on to independence feels like a new beginning. I’ve come a long way and God knows where I’d be if it wasn’t for the YMCA – almost certainly still sofa surfing.
Instead, I feel like a different person and I know what life’s about. It’s scary, but I’m ready for it.”