Michelle's Story: Supporting Young People
Best thing about working with young people
Whether it’s young people leaving care, young people with mental health issues or young parents – when they first come into services, a lot of them are really scared and vulnerable and they have no idea about their future. But when you follow them through and support them on their journey and you get a positive move on at the end, I think it’s just the best feeling in the world.
One young dad last year had a really positive move on and won an award at the Centrepoint annual award ceremony. I felt so proud of him, he’s just amazing.
Ways of working
I think you have to be really transparent and honest. It’s really important to empathise with their problems and help them along. They need to know that you’re here for support, but not to overwhelm them too much, as you want to encourage their independence and confidence.
One young woman that recently moved on came to us as a 16-year-old with a baby. She didn’t know how to cook, how to budget. It was a case of sitting down with her and providing baby steps. For example, finding recipes that were healthy, simple and affordable and giving her the confidence to cook new things. In terms of her finances – we made it clear that it was okay for her to treat herself, but to ensure that she had her bills paid first. Eventually, she turned out to be the most amazing, independent woman ever. She didn’t need any support by the time she moved on.
One of the challenges that young people in this service face is that they want to go out and do things with their kids, but the thing that stands in their way is finance; they haven’t got money to take the children for a nice day out. Even just the travelling to places is unaffordable for them. It’s such a shame because there are so many things they could be doing that are educational for the children, but they are just so limited by their finances.
It can also be difficult when it’s time to move on. They feel quite safe with us and then leaving us can be challenging. They haven’t got anything – no furniture and appliances. We can help them source stuff like that, but it is scary feeling that you’re on your own now. However, a lot of the time, they are ready for it and it’s a natural thing to feel nervous about change.