We want to end youth homelessness and we’re tackling the problem locally by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable young adults every night. We give the young people a stable home and provide them with the skills they need so they can leave us and forge an independent life.
Sharon Coggins is the Job Coach for The Benjamin Foundation. This role has been made possible due to funding received by the End Youth Homelessness project. Working with all the young people accessing housing services provided by our charity in Norfolk and Suffolk, Sharon spends time helping young people move into education, employment and training.
With good knowledge of what colleges and providers are able to offer our young people in the county and beyond, Sharon works on both a one-to-one basis or with groups of young people.
Brooke-Lee, aged 20, lives in one of The Benjamin Foundation accommodation services in Norfolk. In recent years, there were tensions at home and, with the situation becoming untenable, Brooke-Lee sought alternative accommodation.
She received support and has been provided with a stable home with The Benjamin Foundation for the last two years and, during that time, has made great progress towards building an independent future, learning life skills, such as cooking and budgeting, growing in confidence and strengthening relationships with her family.
Having struggled throughout her younger school years, Brooke-Lee did not really learn to read and write until she was 12 years of age. When she began to attend High School, her difficulties were recognised and she received the support she needed throughout her education. She studied Animal Science and Horse Management at College and, despite having dyslexia and dyscalculia, she passed all the exams with flying colours.
Brooke-Lee has experience of working in retail and hospitality but has spent five years working and volunteering at equine establishments. She has also gained a lot of additional experience by working at an animal welfare unit, canine creche, cattery, dog grooming parlour and different stables. She is passionate about anything linked to animals, especially all things horses and wants to secure work experience, voluntary work or full time employment in this field.
She has worked with Sharon, The Benjamin Foundation Job Coach for the last twelve months. Dedicated to securing employment in the equine field, the two have worked hard together to identify placements which could offer Brooke-Lee some work experience. Unfortunately there are not a lot of stables locally and transport links are not fantastic, which makes getting to any offer of work experience difficult. However Brooke-Lee’s passion and commitment remained as strong as ever and she was able to take up some short term placements thanks to the support of the End Youth Homelessness (EYH) bursary, which helped with the cost of petrol and bus fares, while building her confidence and experience. Unfortunately, these placements were not sustainable due to the distance needed to be travelled.
During lockdown Brooke-Lee accessed the Young Person’s COVID Fund, made possible thanks to donations and grants, to receive financial assistance for her to get the necessary PPE and workwear she would need once lockdown lifted. This meant she could be ready to seize new opportunities as soon as they arose.
The support of the Job Coach has been paramount as Brooke-Lee continues to work through her options. Sharon has also supported Brooke-Lee to access the EYH Bursary Fund to pay for Level Three qualifications in Horse Care and Stable Management, and Equine Behaviour and Psychology. Both of which Brooke-Lee has passed with a higher distinctions. Brooke-Lee has also signed up for an online Equine First Aid at work course.
Brooke-Lee is currently bidding on independent properties, with a view to moving into her own flat. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the Job Coach and is looking forward to the future.
It demonstrates the strength of the service and the care and compassion of the team and Hosts who make the service such a success.