When Karen applied to live at YMCA four years ago, she was a vulnerable, emotional young woman who was trying to keep her head above water. She had a history of self-harming and bulimia.

Her family background had not been an easy one, but despite this she had always presented herself well and met challenges head on. Karen had always worked at least part-time and wanted to pursue her career but did not know which way to turn or how to get the support she needed. She had been labelled as difficult, lazy and over-emotional.

Karen fully engaged throughout her stay at YMCA and regularly attended her key-working sessions. She had her ups and downs but kept battling with poor self-esteem and wellbeing. Over the next year Karen continued to work part-time as an assistant within a taxi company transporting disabled children to and from school.

Karen had a negative perception of herself and worried about the lack of control she thought she had in her life. She felt she was getting old and was not achieving things quickly enough so she would become low and depressed. This impacted her personal relationships and she found herself in a very controlling and difficult relationship.

We encouraged Karen to engage as much as she could whilst at YMCA: she kept herself busy and gradually her confidence started to grow. It was not long before she was heading up the Residents’ Committee and encouraging other residents to have a voice within the hostel. She began to build bridges with her family and re-connect. Karen joined the driving scheme and passed her driving test, which was a very proud moment for her.

Two years ago we helped Karen secure a newly built one bedroom flat. She has now been living there ever since and has decorated her home in her own style. She has become more organised and a very independent young lady. It was at this point that Karen finished her destructive relationship and was able to move forward with her life working full time. She saved up to buy herself a car, obtained her passport and has begun travelling.

Karen has now been working for a company in Hatfield for the last two years as a line manager to a team. She has responsibility for the processing of company stock throughout the South East. She is able to work alone with very little input from her line manager, who has a high level of trust in her.

Karen kept in touch with YMCA and came back several times to help out at social events. She has since progressed and is a reliable member of the volunteer team and runs a regular evening group for residents to enjoy Arts and Crafts.