When Kerry found herself homeless and suffering from poor mental health she turned to One YMCA for support, and that was exactly what she found. By participating in YMCA-run creative activities and courses, Kerry found a path to living independently. This is her story…

I moved into One YMCA in April 2018 when I was in desperate need of somewhere to live. I was originally in a simple shared hostel room and was fully supported by the housing team.

In my first week I met the chaplaincy team who told me about the Journey to Freedom course, which I expressed an interest in, and later attended and completed.

Getting support
At this point in my life I was suffering badly with my mental health and was referred to the mental health team in May 2018. Despite this, I still tried to engage with the activities One YMCA offered and was a regular attendee of the gardening course. I attended regular chaplaincy meetings and I found these pastoral chats very rewarding and helpful. I was also a regular attendee at the Resident’s Forum and the Resident’s Committee, where I was able to bring other residents’ questions to the table for discussion. It was then I really felt as if I was starting to belong.

Later in the year I took the MIND course that was being run within One YMCA. I found it challenging, but it encouraged me to continue to address my issues and was very worthwhile.

I was also struggling with my physical health and was referred to the occupational health team who arranged for me to move into a self-contained flat within the hostel, which had its own kitchen and large bathroom to accommodate my adaptations for bathing and standing. It was a lovely place to live and it gave me space to relax. It also allowed me to support my daughter, who had been unwell, and have a visit from my brother.

Finding a creative focus
Over Christmas 2019 I worked on One YMCA’s Christmas Wonderland project. Making and painting penguins for the hostel entrance was great fun. It took weeks but the end result was amazing and I really enjoyed it. As part of the work I was doing with One YMCA staff towards me moving on I joined in with more activities, such as arts and crafts, focus groups and the knitting group.

I soon began bidding on council properties that would meet my medical needs, but then in March 2020 Covid-19 struck and I was worried about how that would affect me moving on. Luckily, in April I was offered a property in the local community.

Moving in was a big challenge as I didn’t have everything I needed and the shops were shut. But with the help of my support worker, friends and family I managed to move all my belongings from One YMCA to my new home and get what I needed. Given the extreme conditions, One YMCA also delivered some of the things I couldn’t fit in the car.

I am now settled in my new home but I am still in contact with One YMCA and hope that once Covid-19 is over I will be able to visit to have a catch up and cup of tea. I am looking forward to showing staff my new home. I am very grateful for the support and help I have had from One YMCA.

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