Ari's Story: Becoming Themselves
Over three years ago, Ari came out as non-binary after not feeling comfortable in their skin as a girl or boy for a long time.
Despite support from their siblings and wider family, Ari’s relationship with their parents eventually broke down in 2021 and they made the difficult decision to leave the family home. During this time, Ari struggled to come to terms what was happening to them.
“At that moment in time, I just felt really, really numb. I didn't care. I didn't want to do anything. I just…everything seemed pointless.”
Fortunately, Ari was able to stay with their aunt for a week while they reached out to the council for support and advice on their options. Initially, they were placed in temporary accommodation – however this wasn’t age-appropriate, so Ari was soon referred onto one of Centrepoint’s hostels in Bradford.
Support with mental health, work and independence
After staying in inappropriate accommodation for a number of weeks, arriving at Centrepoint – where residents have their own room and space – was a welcome relief for Ari.
“It was great, actually, because I had my own place to cook food without worrying," they reflect. "I had my own room that I could lock and make sure that no one would come in. It was safe.”
A support network was also key for Ari, including staff that support them and understand their experience – and this is exactly what Ari experienced when they came to Centrepoint. As well as their main keyworker, Emma, Ari was also supported by another keyworker when they first came to Centrepoint.
“I had a keyworker before Emma, and she was great. She was the first person I met when I went to the interview. She was there the whole way through and she really helped me a lot, especially as someone who is trans. It was great talking to someone else who was as well. It was great having someone I could communicate with and feel safe around. She was one of the staff I really talked to.”
Thanks to this initial support, as well as mental health and employment support in the months following, Ari has since secured a Kickstart Scheme job – earning valuable work experience, and developing vital life skills and independence.
Looking beyond gender stereotypes
Despite awareness increasing around non-binary experiences, Ari has spoken about the stereotypes and pigeonholes society often places non-binary people into.
“Everyone experiences gender dysphoria differently, or expresses themselves differently from each other," they say. "No one non-binary person is the same. And I feel like that everyone expects us to be exactly the same – all dressed in like the same stereotype of androgynous person. We're not all like that we all express ourselves differently,"
These stereotypes haven’t held Ari back though. In the months they were with Centrepoint, Ari was able to focus on developing themselves and has since moved from the hostel in Bradford into independent accommodation with their partner. Ari is hoping to make their home safe and welcoming over the coming months, so that they can have their siblings, family and friends over for a weekend.
But that’s not all Ari is striving for – they’re also hoping to get their YouTube channel off the ground. Ari created the channel over six years ago, with hopes of creating a safe space for other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
"I just honestly want to make people smile and feel that they're not alone. And that was my dream, to help people and to make people smile…like other YouTubers have done to me whenever I was feeling upset.”
Talking of the progress Ari has made and the impact they will continue to have on other young people, their former keyworker, Emma, said:
“It was a pleasure to work with Ari and to see a young person so motivated to achieve the best for themselves. I have no doubt that Ari and their YouTube channel will go on to support and inspire other young people to be their authentic selves.”
For Ari, the experiences they have gone through have been incredibly challenging, but these experiences have also shaped them for the better. Reflecting on this, Ari said:
“I think one of the biggest key things that I have learned is that life not easy. It's a lot of hard work. And that sometimes you do fall and it's alright to fall. You just have to remember to pick yourself back up and keep going keep pushing at it, you'll get there.”
Wise words indeed! Thank you to Ari for sharing their story – we wish them all the best for the future.
If you'd like to make a donation to Centrepoint and help support young people like Ari please visit our donation page.