We want to end youth homelessness and we’re tackling the problem locally by providing a safe home and support to over 100 vulnerable young adults every night via our accommodation services across Norfolk and Suffolk. We also provide the young people with new skills and help to build their confidence and self-esteem so they can leave us and forge successful, independent lives.

Lydia* age 20 has been living at one of our accommodation centres in Norfolk for almost two years. Having previous been supported by The Benjamin Foundation service before moving in her partner, she returned to our charity when the relationship broke down and living in the same house with an ex-partner and his family became difficult and stressful.

Lydia explains what it was like moving into one of our centres for young people in Norfolk.

“When I first moved in it was scary.” She explains.  “Everything was new and I didn’t know anyone but the staff helped me to settle in. They made sure that I knew was my home and not their workplace.”

Lydia has her own room and was able to made it feel homely by decorating and putting up her own photographs on the walls, as well as taking advantage of the new opportunities presented to her.

“I did a six week Employability course with some of the other young people. It was a mixture of subjects with The Benjamin Foundation Job Coach. We learned things like cooking and job application skills – I really enjoyed it!”

Lydia has since been perfecting her own cooking skills. She now enjoys trying out new recipes with pasta dishes one of her favourite things to cook.

“I’ve made up a pasta recipe with ranch dressing and cheese – it’s really nice!” She says.

“I have also learned how to be better with money. I used to really struggle and found it hard to save up due to spending, but now I can budget and manage my money better.”

Lydia has also been enjoying learning how to become more independent and has taken great steps forward. She knows The Benjamin Foundation staff, including her Support Worker Sharon are there to help her as she takes her next steps.

Covid has been a particularly difficult time for everybody, and the young people we support are no exception. Lydia says the early days of lockdown were a real struggle but it is testament to her resilience that she has adapted well to the changes affecting everyone’s daily lives, using the opportunity to further cement her strong relationship with staff.

“We’ve bonded really well and do things like watch movies together.” She says.

Lydia reflects on her highlights too: “My first Christmas living here was really memorable because I had never experienced anything like that before. Everybody was together, eating a meal. It was so nice and it really lifted my spirits.”

“Everyone is so supportive. I’m hoping to get a ‘move-on’ flat, which I was quite nervous about but Sharon has really helped to ease my worries. Now I’m really looking forward to having my own place – I can paint the walls, pay my own bills and get my own furniture – it will be great!”

Lydia is also exploring options for college with the ambition to teach English abroad.

She adds: “Without The Benjamin Foundation, things would have been really difficult – I may have been on the streets. But now things are really good – I’m happy to be alive!”

Thank you to Lydia for sharing her story.

*Name and image has been changed.

Quote Marks Left 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.

Norwich Sleep Out 2018 participant

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