When Jake arrived on the doorstep of YMCA Hillbrook House a year ago, carrying everything he owned and with nowhere else to go, he had run out of options.

A difficult family situation had broken down completely after he lost his job and Jake was depressed, suffering with severe anxiety and self-harming.

“I was a mess,” he says honestly, “but the staff were brilliant. They gave me a room, helped me straighten myself out and advised me on my applications for housing benefit and Job Seekers allowance. They put me on courses for support with my mental health.”

“It hit me in the face that it was time to grow up,” says Jake. “I realised that if I worked with the YMCA staff, they would be able to help me.”

Now 25, Jake has nothing but praise for his assigned key worker, Nicole.

“She was awesome,” he says. “Nicole was always there for me with constant contact and support. If I did something wrong, she would grill me for it but she gave me her time when I was at my lowest and she made me realise that I could achieve what I wanted if I put my mind to it.”

Jake went from Hillbrook House to our Move-On project at Lynwood Road. His confidence levels and mental health have improved. After a period of volunteering, he has a full-time job with Raven Housing Trust and he hopes to be given a permanent position shortly.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” says Jake. “I’m earning good money and I can live comfortably – I feel like I have a purpose.”

As well as completing a Business & Admin Level 2 long distance learning course, his next aim is to secure a proper place to call home for the future.

“I’ve wanted to live a normal life for so long now,” he says. “My aim is to find a fixed address where I can sleep, eat, go to work and the gym or see friends. To me, that would mean everything.”

This year, YMCA East Surrey provided a home to 85 young people facing homelessness and 51 young people were positive Move-Ons. We have provided over 300 hours of resident support a month to young people like Jake. Outcome star assessments show that 88% of residents at Hillbrook feel they have improved in at least one aspect of their lives over the past 3 months.

“There are still times when I nearly slip, but I’ve got a clear vision of where I want to be,” says Jake. “I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now without Nicole and the help of the YMCA. She sorted me right out and I’m so grateful.”

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