We believe that everyone should have a safe place to stay
Read YMCA resident Leon’s inspiring story which demonstrates how high quality supported housing and good mental health support can make a big difference to someone’s life and their recovery
I was in Hospital mental health unit because had breakdown and attempted suicide. Was there quite a while, because of that I was homeless because the staff in the mental health unit said I could only come out once improved, and I had to go into supported accommodation, the Dorset Health care liaison manger interviewed me to assess. I came to see the flat and met my now keyworker, I was classed as high risk at the time. I had to come with the nurse and had a housing assessment for the YMCA.
At first coming to the YMCA was frightening for me, when I first came to the YMCA, we wrote a “my crisis“ plan and I liked how everybody worked to it. Leon said that we kept him safe. It was very stressful coming to less secure building than I was before, I was struggling with self-harming, The YMCA understood that I was trying to stop it but if I did self-harm it was ok. I realised I didn’t have to hide my feelings and emotions anymore, nobody thought that anything was wrong as I wore a mask. Inside I was falling apart, distressed suicidal, I realised I could speak to my key worker the same way as nurses, that was a massive relief as I was not judged.
Once I was settled in an aim to move on maybe to help to reach groups we established, the gym manager introduced me to the then reach worker. Becoming a peer specialist was Prompted in hospital, my key worker even went on one of the training courses with me, it gave senses of what I was aiming for a goal to aim for and achieve. This open up the doors to start speaking to people outside. It opened the door to move to a flat towards my independence. I still felt so safe because I ha access to staff 24hours a day and this was comfort to me like a massive safety net, it was a massive comfort.
Where I got involved with the Reach (social group) to be a volunteer peer specialist I got involved in Dorset Mental Health Forum, an in their social meetings as well as the pool group which are sadly not on at the moment. There are plans for to more involved once things are back to normal.
My recovery to mental health is Immensely important to me, it is huge. Mental health covers such a big spectrum, how it affects an individual varies , no single person is the same. You have got to look to personal wellbeing, what suits them, finding something what wellbeing suits that person it keeps the person safe. Recently I Supported a fellow group member in a crisis. Knowing that there is someone to call that understands what they are going through too, keeps them safe, then I signpost to right group to speak with. A sense of community.
I need to keep up with my wellbeing and the crisis plan is key to that. The whole team in housing know what to do because of My Crisis Plan, I need to stick to that plan as it could end up with me trying to end my life, or self-harming regularly, I have blips but the blips help me understand and learn about my-self. If hadn’t of followed all the advice I would have taken my own life.
Leon Volunteers for the Dorset Mental Health Forum http://www.dorsetmentalhealthforum.org.uk/
In 2018, we kept 197
Before moving into the YMCA, Henry describes his life as being “intense, hectic and challenging”. He says that he found it difficult to rebuild his life after experiencing difficult times. Henry suffers from anxiety and he says that he used to struggle to manage his mental health. After being kicked out of the place that he was staying, Henry moved into the YMCA.
When asked how his life has changed over the last 7 months, since moving into the YMCA, Henry says: “I have calmed down and have matured a lot. I feel inspired and driven here, and I have learnt to accept more help when I need it. With the right support, I have learnt to manage my mental health and it has improved massively.”
Henry is a Christian and when asked how his faith has impacted his life, Henry said: “My faith in Jesus Christ has been what has kept me going, especially whilst living at YMCA. My faith has given me the boldness and courage to go forward, without knowing what the outcome will be. It has given me great assurance that I have a purpose in life, and it has made me a lot more comfortable in myself and who I am. I am more focussed on Jesus Christ than I ever have been. I now look forward rather than backward, and I am not letting my past define my life.”
Henry is YMCA Bournemouth’s first resident graduate of the European Solidarity Corps Volunteer programme. During the 2-month, full time programme, Henry has been volunteering with the Lifewise Gym Manager at our Westover Road Hostel. It has been clear to see that Henry has thrived in this opportunity. When asked about his experience volunteering for the programme Henry says: “I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to prove to myself that I could stick at something. I wanted to give back to the YMCA and help around the hostel as a way of showing my appreciation. As well as a way of serving my home, and blessing others in some way. I have really enjoyed my time volunteering through this project, and I look forward to the potential opportunities it could open up.”
The housing staff, along with many other members of staff who work at our hostel, have hugely appreciated the way that Henry has served the hostel over the last few months. It has been such a privilege to see how much Henry has thrived whilst volunteering here. We have seen his determination and dedication over the last few months and have seen how willing he has been to get stuck in with so many different tasks, and we are incredibly thankful. It is a pleasure to support Henry and we wish him all the best as he prepares to move on from YMCA and thinks about what is next.
The European Solidarity Corps is a great way for young people aged 18-30 to take part in full-time volunteering within their own communities or abroad. The programme is fully-funded with volunteers receiving all expenses, daily pocket money and a certificate. Placements are varied in setting and duration: local volunteering lasts up to 2 months and overseas placements can last 2-12 months. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The first mention of a YMCA in Bournemouth is in 1879 when it was housed in rented rooms above the J E Beale shop in Old Christchurch Road. It has served the population of Dorset for 140 years and works across key areas – housing, family and relationships, youth work, training, and health and fitness – to help people fulfil their potential.
Danny has battled hard to get himself free of addiction but last year he also battled for others by organising a coffee morning in aid of cancer care.
Mehdi is now a very successful businessman in Bournemouth but it has been a very difficult journey. A stay at YMCA Bournemouth changed his life.
Jess became homeless after a mental health breakdown resulting from domestic violence. After her stay at YMCA Bournemouth she now lives in her own flat.
Marcus had been homeless for 23 years before securing a place at our hostel in Westover Road. He says it’s the best place he has ever been.