Young man in hard hat and safety goggles working on electrics outside.

29 January 2024

My Name is Alec, I came to live at YMCA Wolverhampton Housing in 2018 at the age of 16, I am now 21. Before I moved into YMCA I lived with my family. My childhood was difficult, due to my chaotic family situation which eventually led to my mom and step-dad leaving me to start a life separately elsewhere so unfortunately I was left homeless.

I was referred to YMCA Housing by Wolverhampton Council as they didn’t know where or how they could support me, partly due to my age. I didn’t want foster care, I didn’t feel I could integrate into another family at that time, I had no one else at the time to turn to so YMCA seemed like the best fit.

Settling In

After moving into a studio flat in YMCA Cannock Road, I felt at bit lost in myself as I didn’t know what to expect or what my future was going to be. That same week, I also started an Electrician’s course at the local college, Ella and the team always encouraged to be in education and keep up my studies; they reminded me to get up and go on time, made sure I had my bursary in place and helped me build good habits and a routine. The Housing Team helped me feel at ease, they supported me through teaching me important life skills, like how to manage my money, apply for benefits, put electric on and maintain my tenancy, this really helped me as I didn’t really know where to start with any of it!

There was a lot of change at this time in my life and I felt quite isolated; no family, a new home, new course, no friends nearby… but the participation and group activities run by YMCA allowed me to socialise and build my confidence, social skills and interaction, both with staff and other residents.

Building my future

YMCA Cannock Road remained my home for a few months. Once I felt more independent, I moved on to the Catisfield site in Pendeford. It was a strange time as it was during Covid, my college routine changed and since realising I thrived on structure, I started to feel low and anxious. When my college course ended, I spiralled into a low place, struggling to see how things were going to work out and thinking about things that had happened in my past a lot. My support worker encouraged me to seek help for my mental health and I was referred to Healthy Minds, who gave me some coping strategies to work through my past trauma and get through the days where everything felt harder.

On completing my college course, I did some additional training in Electrical Installation, Security and First Aid. I mentioned this to Ella and the YMCA Housing Team was able to arrange some work experience with their Maintenance Team, so that I could gain some real hands on experience in the workplace, supporting their in-house electrician with installations across their projects. Mark and team have been really encouraging and patient with me, the experience has reaffirmed that I want a career as an Electrician and I was delighted to be invited out for their team Christmas meal too! It’s helped me to thrive as I’ve got a routine and structure back to my life, allowed my to build my social skills in the workplace and develop good relationships with those around me.

Moving Forward

There have been times when I’ve felt trapped or not knowing how to move forward with my life; working and getting my own property has been a challenge and I’m so grateful that YMCA housing was there for me, I’m not sure where I would have ended up without them. Having a home where I felt safe and secure meant that I could get a handle on my mental and physical health and focus on building the skills I need to reach my goals. I have had no support or contact with my mom and step-dad since moving out all those years ago, though during my time at YMCA I’ve been able to reconnect with my Dad and have built a good relationship with him.

I would 100% recommend YMCA to others, it’s really helped get through some dark times and feel positive about my future; my advice to anyone who is finding things hard would be to just keep going, it all works out eventually.

YMCA offers housing to young people aged 18-35 across the Black Country. Whatever your support needs we’ve got something to help you build a positive future.