Due to a breakdown in family relationships, Amie* now aged 18, had been living in a tent in a wood for a period of time before she was referred to The Benjamin Foundation. She has now had a safe place to live and support for over a year and has taken huge steps forward to get her life back on track and plan for a successful, independent future.
“I’ve lived here now for just over a year. It was stressful and nerve-wracking at first because it was so different. I didn’t know anything about these kind of accommodation centres so it was scary.” Amie explains.
“I didn’t understand it at first. It’s stressful being an adult and I would get angry quickly, I was easily annoyed and this made my anxiety worse.”
Even when Amie was referred to The Benjamin Foundation, the pandemic caused additional challenges during an already difficult time.
“I moved in when I was 17, and it was during the pandemic. I’d been living in a wood with no phone so I didn’t know anything about Covid. Even being in my own flat here affected my mental health because I felt so isolated and depressed as people had to stay apart. I felt like I had nobody. Christmas was especially hard as I didn’t see family or my partner.”
Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, Amie slowly began to adjust to living at The Benjamin Foundation and the support helped her take steps to prepare for independent living.
“You have your own safe space here with a bathroom and kitchen and this has helped me a lot. I’m learning how to manage my own tenancy.
“I feel a lot better now. I have people around me to speak to when I feel angry and it helps me calm down. The staff have helped me with Doctors appointments, visits to the Dentist and also getting some ID, which has been so important.
Money raised by our charity’s supporters helps to fund many additional items, courses or help that young people may need as they begin to get their lives back on track and start to look to their future. This was no different for Amie and she has benefitted from funding to pave the way for a career that she feels hugely passionate about.
“The Benjamin Foundation paid for a Personal Training course for me. I’ve realised that this is what I want to do in life! I am aiming to get a job in a gym when I’ve completed it. I also met with The Benjamin Foundation Job Coach, Joe. Being a Personal Trainer will be freelance so I may need to find other work. I’ve got some skills in tiling, building and painting so Joe has helped me to apply for a CSCS card to enable me to also work on building sites.
Amie is also looking forward to the possibility of getting involved with a new Future Builders project. In partnership with End Youth Homelessness and funded by the Ovo Foundation, Future Builders provides young people with the opportunity to learn construction skills by working on renovating homes – at the same time, giving them the training and experience they may need to gain an apprenticeship or full-time work.
Amie continues: “The staff have also helped me with cooking lessons. I can do a roast dinner and bake cakes now. I’ve baked cakes for the whole centre! It’s my friend’s birthday in a couple of weeks so I’m going to bake her a cake too. I’ve also received help with budgeting. I had no money before so the staff have helped me to understand how to spend my money wisely and also to stay away from the wrong crowd.
“I’m looking forward to getting my own flat. All I want is my own place and to be able to look after myself.”
The Benjamin Foundation uses The Outcomes Star ™ when supporting young people. This is an evidence-based tool for supporting and measuring change. As Amie reflects on her time with The Benjamin Foundation and thinks about how far she has come in the last year, she says:
“My star is nearly full.”
Thank you to Amie for sharing her story.
With your support we can do even more to help vulnerable young people in Norfolk and Suffolk like Amie to take their next steps to leading successful independent lives. Just £10 could pay for a welcome pack of essentials when a young person at risk of homelessness arrives at one of our accommodation centres. Make a regular or one-off donation today: https://benjaminfoundation.co.uk/donate/
*Names have been changed.