We want to end youth homelessness and we’re tackling the problem locally by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable local young people every night. We give them a stable home and provide them with the skills they need so they can leave us and forge an independent life.
As a baby, Amber was separated from her mother, who subsequently spent many years in between institutions, resulting in Amber having no contact with her. She was brought up by other family members but after receiving emotional abuse at the hands of her father, she was placed into foster care before her teenage years.
In total, she experienced three foster placements which all sadly broke down and, aged 17, Amber found herself sofa surfing between her boyfriend and friends’ houses.
She temporarily moved away from the area to live with a family member and she returned to the region, another foster placement broke down. Once again, she found herself sofa surfing – until she found one of our accommodation centres.
The centre was able to offer a safe place to live and, after spending a very successful eight months at the centre receiving the support of our team, Amber felt confident enough to move to her own ‘move on’ flat and take her next step towards independence.
Despite all the upheaval and upset, Amber made remarkable progress in her academic life. She gained 7 C+ grade GCSE’s and BTEC’s. She also achieved Level 3 BTEC as well as taking her AS Levels.
However, after starting college, she experienced a dip in her mental health and left in order to focus on addressing this, which she did with the support of services. In time, she felt much more settled and stable.
With the help and support of Sharon Coggins, The Benjamin Foundation Job Coach who works with all the young people in our housing and homelessness services to support their training, education and career, Amber has completed an online Level 2 Diploma in Childcare. She’s now in the process of completing her Level 3 Childcare Diploma, also with the help of Sharon.
This hasn’t been without challenges; Amber suffers from a disorder which means she’s unable to process visual information in the same way as others. This means she can struggle to read black text on white paper and needs a coloured filter in order for her to read her coursework. She is also Dyslexic, which has given her an additional hurdle but also demonstrates what a fantastic job she did in achieving such good grades.
With help from a bursary made possible thanks to End Youth Homelessness and Eversheds Sutherland, Amber has been able to undertake online learning with a magnifier and purple paper. The Job Coach is also arranging for specialist software to be put on a communal computer to enable her to complete her assignments.
Given her experiences in life, Amber’s goal is to work with young children, especially those who may be in the care system or experiencing difficulties at home. She has so much to give and is complimentary of the support she’s received from The Benjamin Foundation and our Job Coach in particular:
“Sharon is brilliant.” She says. “She has helped me to sort my life out.”
Amber’s advice to anyone struggling with homelessness or life is: “Keep going. You’re only what you think you are – not what other people say you are.”
It’s an eye-opening experience – I can’t imagine having to do this day in, day out. The best thing is seeing so many people taking part.