Our LifeWorks project is still in its first year but already proving a lifeline to young people like Joe.

The action-packed scheme engages with young people with disabilities aged 16+ through inclusive sporting and social activities. Our Youth Services team help attendees to work towards independence and build on strengths, increasing their confidence in everyday life.

Joe, 21, has been a YMCA service user since he first attended the Yip4Youth scheme when he was 14. More recently, he has joined our Friday Night Project, continuing to engage with friends that he’s made through YMCA trips and activities.

In September 2016, Joe finished college and was unsure what to do next.

“It was as if they said, ‘Off you go – goodbye’,” says Joe’s mum, Jane. “We were on our own. I gave up working to be around for Joe and it was an uncertain time.”

Joe tried a supported internship but it was unsuccessful and his confidence was knocked. Fortunately, we had recently started the LifeWorks project and Joe decided to enrol.

“LifeWorks gives Joe something constructive and interesting to do with his day,” says Jane. “It is everything to him. The staff are brilliant and they constantly build him up, boosting his self-esteem. It makes him really happy.”

Joe currently attends five sessions per week and will soon achieve a Level 1 Sports Leadership Award. A keen football fan, he’s developed his own skills in a range of sports and conquered his fears to try both trampolining and indoor rock climbing. Joe has helped others to learn the disability sport of Boccia, explaining rules and leading teams.

He has been involved in planning, food preparation and hospitality related skills through the YmmmCA Café.

“I like talking to people in the café and taking their orders,” says Joe. “I’ve learned new skills like cutting up food, washing up and taking out the bins.”

He now has the confidence to ask for help when he needs it, applies practical skills to solve everyday problems and feels very proud of his achievements.

Jane says the impact that LifeWorks has had on Joe is ‘massive’.

“If he didn’t have the project, Joe would be stuck with me all day,” she explains. “Instead, I look at all the things that his older brother and sister have been able to do and I know that Joe isn’t missing out at all.”

I have the best time in the world.