Young person holding up a bunch of weeds on a biodynamic farm Tamsin Clements

Zeph's Story: Don't be scared to ask for help

Zeph (18), who identifies as non-binary, was referred to Centrepoint’s therapeutic service for 16-18-year-old when they became homeless. They were able to attend a horticulture residential with the RHS ahead of the Chelsea Flower Show in 2023 and they are now studying Forensic Psychology at university and being supported by the Centrepoint Bursary.

Family breakdown

Zeph’s relationship with their mum deteriorated over a long period of time during their teens. It began to really affect both of their mental health and  Zeph would often sofa surf with friends when things became overwhelming. When Zeph was in sixth form, the relationship became unworkable, Zeph’s mum made the call to social services for support. 

“My mum couldn’t deal with me anymore and she called social services for support because the situation had become impossible,” Zeph explains.

Things moved quite slowly from there, but the situation escalated and one night Zeph was kicked out. They called their social worker and he was able to secure an emergency placement into one of Centrepoints therapeutic services for 16-18 year olds in Yorkshire where Zeph stayed for a year.

Learning independence at Centrepoint

Amanda was Zeph’s first key worker and really helped them settle in and feel at home.

“She was very kind and helped me to feel comfortable when I was having a really difficult time,” Zeph remembers. She was always professional, but she also felt like a friend as well as a staff member. She was available to talk whenever I needed to and was able to signpost me to help and support that I needed.”

In preparation for living independently, Centrepoint staff work through AQA accredited Centrepoint Lifewise programme young people. Zeph found this particularly useful.

“I did some food safety modules which helped me to get jobs in hospitality. I also did budgeting and rent which were so helpful as I had no idea about how to pay rent or bills and manage my money before.”

Zeph was also able to access support with her mental health at the service and was supported with a referral to Evolve to get their diagnosis for Autism and ADHD. They have their assessment coming up very soon.

Zeph says they are so grateful to the staff in her service because they did so much to help them.  When asked to think of an example they say that it’s so hard to think of just one thing as there were so many!

Horticulture residential for Chelsea Flower Show

In the spring of 2023, Zeph, a keen gardener, was able to take part in a horticulture residential in Windsor with the RHS. This was ahead of the Chelsea Flower show where Centrepoint were showcasing their garden designed by Cleve West and funded by Project Giving Back. 

Along with four other young people, Zeph stayed on the royal estate in Windsor and gained a variety of knowledge and experience from biodynamic farming to grounds keeping on a prestigious gold course.

Zeph says that they never realised that there were so many aspects to horticulture.  They enjoyed the opportunity to be outside and meet other young people who had ‘gone through the system.’ They also think that gardening is something that all young people should get involved in if they have the opportunity.

“It’s a great hobby to get into because it gives you a lot of knowledge. It’s really practical knowledge which is really useful and it’s also really good for mental health. It’s just really good for you to spend time outdoors.”

Academic success and future plans

Not long after Zeph returned from the residential, they sat their A-levels. They achieved three As and is now studying Forensic Psychology at university.

They will be supported by the Centrepoint Bursary throughout their degree. They hope eventually to do CSI or detective work. In their spare time, they like to draw, read and play the piano and drums.

“The bursary has opened many doors of opportunity. It allowed me to purchase my laptop for university that I would have greatly struggled without. It allows me to communicate between my wellbeing team, my lecturers and fellow students. I'm incredibly grateful for myself, and for other people that the bursary can be accessed. It opens doors for students who those of us wouldn't have had access otherwise.”

Zeph is incredibly grateful for all the support and knowledge they acquired whilst with Centrepoint.

“I definitely wouldn’t be as independent as I am now if I hadn’t had that experience. It helped prepare me for moving out and having my own place.”

“I think it’s important that other young people don’t feel scared to ask for help. I was scared at first, but once I built up the courage, I was really grateful because I was taught so much by so many people and I am so glad I asked for help when I did.”

Carol, the service manager says that supporting Zeph to achieve their goals was such a pleasure.

“We had a very proud moment when Zeph passed their A levels then secured a place a Uni,” she says.  “It was like a very proud moment you have as a parent. They will achieve everything they want to in life because they are determined, motivated and resilient. They did all the hard work in getting where they are now. We just stayed at their side guiding, supporting and caring, which is something we all need to progress and achieve our goals in life. We are all very proud of Zeph and honoured to have had the opportunity to support them.”

A huge well done to Zeph!