YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Michael

When Michael first accessed our One to One Youth Offer, he was not in an education provision and didn’t see the need for school.

Although excelling at Maths, Michael, 14, had been excluded from two mainstream schools and his defiant behaviour had led to the breakdown of placements at the North East Surrey Short Stay School (NESSSS) and The Gateway Project.

He was put in touch with YMCA East Surrey’s Local Prevention One to One Mentor, Stuart Ryland, who initially built up their relationship by encouraging Michael to show him what he was good at. The two bonded over Maths, pool and card games, with Michael’s confidence, self-esteem and trust increasing all the time.

“He began to open up to me about his family and his experiences at school,” says Stuart. “We talked about what he would like to do in the future and I discovered that he is keen to learn a trade, such as plastering and tiling.”

With Stuart’s help, Michael began to realise that he wouldn’t be able to walk into a job without qualifications and together they explored the possibility of him returning to NESSSS. An interview was arranged and Michael was offered a place.

The teaching staff noticed a complete change in his attitude to lessons and Michael is now very happy to be back at school. He can see that he is making progress and feels optimistic about his future life chances.

Michael says: “Although the YMCA One to One sessions were only 1-2 hours a week, they were the most important 1-2 hours for me. I liked being able to talk at the same time as doing something like playing cards or cooking.”

“It was so helpful to be able to share my experiences with someone who would listen. Stuart said that he was there because he wanted to be and not because he had to, which meant a lot. He didn’t judge me or preach at me and I liked being given options about the activities we did – I wasn’t just forced to do something I didn’t want to.”

“One to One gave me a purpose for getting up in the morning. I’m now back at NESSSS because I can see a reason for education and I want to be there. The YMCA has helped me to work out what I want to do with my life.”

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