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.
Zak* is 21 and lives at one of our accommodation centres in Norfolk. He has spent most of his life in and out of the care system, foster homes, children’s residential homes, and was even adopted. It was felt that a specialist residential school was best placed to meet his specific needs.
Following his placement in a residential school, (due to his age) Zak moved from the residential school to their supported accommodation and then moved to one of The Benjamin Foundation supported accommodation centres in Norfolk. This was to help him gain more responsibility and prove his capability to manage his own tenancy. He has now been for there 9 months. He is a bright young man and worked hard at school. He has gained his Functional Skills Level 2 English and Maths. In addition to this, he has gained certificates in Customer Service and Warehousing, and has also completed a Princes Trust course in Employment and Community Skills.
Zak has ADHD and suffers from low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Although he is a very chatty young man, this masks his anxiety and true feelings at times.
When he first came to The Benjamin Foundation, Zak was volunteering part time at a local charity retail store and really enjoyed this. Unfortunately this placement came to an end and he found himself “moping” around his flat. At this time, he described himself as “being bored all the time, lacking motivation to do anything and being totally fed up.”
He was keen and excited at the prospect of attending a six week programme with the Job Coach and fully threw himself into the programme and was a valuable member of the group. He learnt new employability skills, including interview techniques, how to successfully complete an application form as well as updating his CV.
Zak says: “The six week course was fun, enjoyable and made me focus on the future. I also enjoyed learning how to cook on a budget. I feel much more confident and I can control my anger better. I have also learnt about budgeting, although I still struggle with this.”
He added that he is sad that this was only a six week course and is desperate for the Job Coach to undertake more sessions with him. He is currently volunteering at the local church’s children’s group. His long term goals are to get a job, get his own independent flat and a car.
Zak is also looking into attending a Princes Trust ‘Get into Theatre Course’ and will continue to work with the Job Coach to improve his employability skills. He said that he would recommend the employability course to everyone, adding: “The course has given me motivation and boosted my self-esteem while learning how to cook, how to apply for jobs. I now believe in myself. Job Coach, Sharon is a legend and needs to come back to do more courses with me.”
*Name has been changed
Something which stood out from the other nurseries is how keen staff are to try new things and develop the facilities and activities.