My Mum and Dad split up when I had just turned 16. Mum moved away. I stayed with my dad in York but we didn’t get on very well. I was quite often on my own at home, and then whenever he came back from being away we just used to argue with each other all the time.

My mental health got really bad. I developed really bad anxiety and I stopped going to college for a year.  I was just feeling really low and didn’t feel I could go. Then when I turned 18, my dad said you can stand on your own two feet now, off you go.

I went to my sister’s and slept on her sofa for a couple of months. She had left home before me because she didn’t get on with my mum and she ended up sleeping on my nana’s sofa. She was in SASH for a while so I already knew about it. It completely changed her life and she encouraged me to try it.

Because of my anxiety the thought of living with a stranger was too much. But I knew I couldn’t stay with my sister forever and I didn’t want to move up to my mum’s as she’s quite far away. My education is really important to me and I wanted to go back to my college course in York..

So I went to the council, they offered me some options. One of them was a hostel, I know some people who have been in there and I couldn’t have managed that.

Moving in was really scary. But my host made me feel really at home.  It took a while to get used to it, but she did things like invite me in to the room to watch a film with her, stuff like that, and it was really nice.

When I went into SASH, everything changed. I moved into my host’s house on the Thursday and started back at college on the Monday. SASH gave me a lot of space, and a lot of time to myself, which was good because I needed it.

I was there for nearly eight months before I moved into my own place. I’d had that fear that I didn’t want to be on my own, but then once I moved in I realised quite quickly it was something I could do, that I wanted to do. It’s quite crazy to think of how well I did in a sense, because I was so nervous and scared and at first. But SASH really did help to make things clear, make me realise I could do this, have a future.

“…it is one of the best choices you can make”

I’ve just finished my college course in Animal Management. I was at Flamingo Land doing my work placement, it was amazing, the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m looking for a job now.

When I was in SASH, Nick* helped so much. If I hadn’t had that support, meeting every week, it would have been very different. We could just talk about literally everything, we didn’t have a specific thing, just what was going on, what I’d been doing. If there was an issue, Nick would help me resolve it.

I did lots of SASH Active stuff. I went to London; I did the York Dungeon takeover, and Enable at York House where we made the sensory garden. It was amazing and the people that I met were so nice.

The Dungeon Takeover was something I really wanted to do, because I was so nervous and I had such bad anxiety anyway and I thought if I do this it will really help me overcome these sorts of things. It was so fun, I absolutely loved it and it really boosted my confidence.

I can’t put it into words what my home means to me. it’s in the perfect area, it’s so lovely round here. My boyfriend helped me redecorate; I got the carpet with some money from the Buttle Trust. I got the sofa, the TV stand and my mattress from the YorkCommunity Furniture Store.

I’m so glad that I came into SASH, because without that I don’t know where I’d be at all. I probably wouldn’t have gone to college, I’d probably be with my mum, doing nothing. I don’t see where else I’d have gone.

To someone in my situation, I’d say if you are considering it, just go for it. It’s scary, it’s going to be scary for anyone, even the most confident person in the world, but it is one of the best choices you can make.  You’re not going to get the same opportunities anywhere else.

*Jess’s Support Worker in SASH

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