YMCA LEICESTER

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Y Heritage Legacy Jobs

As part of Y Heritage Legacy we supported seven local heritage organisations to create 10-hour jobs tailored to young people, funded by the project for the first 6 months. We helped a number of YMCA residents to prepare their applications, with seven young people going on to take up roles with King Richard III Visitor Centre, 2 Funky Arts, MSDS Marine, Leicestershire Cares, Enter Edem, Leicester Print Workshop and Leicester Gallery at DMU. Three young people have secured permanent employment and are still with their organisations in November 2023.

Jimmy’s Story

“I was passed from pillar to post”

My childhood wasn’t the greatest. It started off pretty good – until my parents started to squabble and fight over things. I’d get home from school and they’d be throwing food and cutlery around. So I just sat in my room all the time. I think that’s when my anxiety and depression started. My parents divorced when I was about eight years old. I was passed from pillar to post quite a lot – changing schools and where I lived, frequently. Later, I got the choice of living permanently with my Mum or my Dad. I chose my Mum, partly because she needed my help; she is disabled, and I could help around the house, as there was no-one else around. But then when I was 15, I decided to go and live with my Dad.

“When my Dad died, a piece of me went with him”

Then the worst thing happened when I was only 20 – my Dad was murdered. My life just kind of crumbled after that. When my Dad died, a piece of me went with him, and that changed me. I’d been in a relationship for three years – we were living together and engaged and everything. But my Dad’s death was very difficult for me, and for us both. I was tired and anxious all the time; we split up.

I had a decent job, but I had to make regular long journeys to attend a court case following my Dad’s death. It went on for weeks and weeks. So I had no choice but to quit my job and move in with my Auntie. I was also trying to sort things out with my step-mum and my Dad’s family, as they were all fighting over his money and his possessions. I was still talking to my step-mum, and they didn’t like that at all. So they kicked me out.

That’s when I was forced out on to the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings, cold and hungry, occasionally kipping on an old school-mate’s sofa. I went to the Council day after day, but it takes time for them to find you a place, meaning I was homeless for nearly four months. Eventually, they sent me to YMCA. It was wicked.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place.”

It was nice to be in my own cosy bed. But because I’ve been so used to sleeping on a sofa or a hard surface, the beds seemed really uncomfortable. I didn’t sleep well – I just hadn’t grieved properly for my Dad. I locked myself away in my room, 24/7. Emotionally, I was building up a very big wall. YMCA staff helped me break down that wall. They gave me practical help, too, like money planning, food shopping and things like that. They gave me a flat there as well; I got that within the first month of being there, so it just goes to show if you can be a good person in these kind of places you do get some good things out of it.

“My keyworker looked at me as a real, individual person, not judging me.”

Donna involved me in all sorts of stuff. We made a short film about YMCA and I had the starring role. It was wicked, it really opened my eyes and showed me talents I probably didn’t know I had. If I’m being perfectly honest with you, and as deep and dark as it sounds, if I hadn’t had all the support from people like Donna and YMCA, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.

While there, I was also introduced to Make A Splash through the Heritage project and there was an opportunity to go on a boat for two weeks with MSDS Marine to see what they do. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. So when MSDS got funding for someone to do a dive qualification with them, they wanted me. Because I had nearly drowned when I was 12, I said ‘‘I’m not doing that mate… I don’t go near the water’’ and James was like ‘’Just try it – you might like it’’. James is wicked. I can’t thank him enough.

“I work in a dive shop and teach in a swimming pool. I’m buzzing. ”

The dive qualification with MSDS included the rescue course, open water and dry suit. It included the actual PADI Dive and rescue Diver qualification, so I can teach and have already been doing quite a lot of that. It’s mental. I work in a dive shop and teach in a local swimming pool. This started through the Y Heritage jobs programme. On a typical day I fill the cylinders, put the equipment on the van for the actual dive and the try dives, then go to the pool and see if the other instructors need help or if I need to do a one-to-one with someone in the pool. I’m buzzing. This is really cool. (So the dream?) Yeah… it’s wicked.

Before this experience I literally did not go into the water… I could not submerge my head in the bath. I had a full on fear. I was about 26 when I got back into the water again! But now we’re going 20-30 metres down and yeah it’s pitch black down there. It’s like driving through a snow blizzard or being in space. And this summer, well… I’ve been to Cornwall like every month.

This whole experience has benefitted me just in the way I’m growing up. I’m taking life seriously now. I’m getting on with stuff. It’s just happy family life. So the dream… I’d say that my dream from the moment that I came to YMCA is pretty much settled in place now. I wanted a good job, partner, dog, home and I’ve got it. I’ve got it all now and I’m so happy. I’m buzzing. I’m absolutely buzzing