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Darren 300 pxls“The best thing I’ve learned here is how to communi­cate with people”

No idea how I was going to survive

“When I was 17 my mum kicked me out – we hadn’t been getting on. I stayed with my grandparents temporarily, but I had no idea how I was going to survive beyond that.Then the civic centre in Hayes referred me to YMCA.

Somewhere to live

I was given a room in supported accommodation in Uxbridge. On the first night I couldn’t sleep, I was so stressed and nervous. The next day, the staff had a meeting with me and gave me lots of advice. That night I slept like a log. Later, I moved to Ventura House in Hayes, where I stayed for two years.

Learning to get a job

One of the youth workers helped me find an employability skills course, and I spent the next year studying maths, English, ICT and construction. He also got me onto a 12-week course with The Prince’s Trust and a football coaching course. I’ve now joined a Sunday league team, and I’m volun­teering here at Ventura House, painting the rooms. It’s all helped me build my confidence and feel a better person inside. I’m more active and getting lots of support – people keep telling me I’m doing a good job. I want to work in a warehouse or get a licence to drive a forklift truck, but I don’t mind what I do. I’d love to have my own business one day.

Learning to get on with people

The best thing I’ve learned here is how to communi­cate with people. YMCA staff spoke to me nicely so I did the same. I hadn’t been used to that.

I’m now in a shared flat, but someone from YMCA visits me every two weeks. I still come to Ventura House. If it wasn’t here I’d be very distraught. The only thing I’d do to improve it is add a few extra floors so we could get more people in.”