By Kyle Jenkins
7th of December 2017
Just after finishing school, I was left homeless due to family breakdown. I spent roughly six months ‘sofa surfing’ - staying at my friend’s sofa for a couple of nights and then moving on to someone else’s house.
Thanks to one of these friends, I came across the opportunity to volunteer as a youth worker at a LGBT group called SPACE in Poole. I volunteered there for just over a year and a half, supporting young adults to have high self-esteem and confidence.
At the age of 16, I found out about the Quay Foyer in Poole and I was welcomed as a resident. The Quay Foyer offers support housing services for up to 50 young people between the ages of 16-25 who, due to personal circumstances, had to leave their family home or have been rough sleeping.
When my volunteering role at Space came to an end, I became an Ambassador at the Quay Foyer. I decided to help other young people going through similar situations to mine because I knew that there aren’t many services out there that provide the support that some people so desperately need. Knowing this, I began to interact with the Quay Foyer residents to give the support and peer mentoring that I’d missed out and to prevent them from heading down the wrong path.
From living and working at the Quay Foyer, I was invited along to the steering groups in the early days of Face Forward. This allowed me to influence the shaping of the project and since April 2017, I’ve worked at Ansbury Guidance as a Face Forward Apprentice. My role involves working with and supporting young people in a variety of ways, not only in the Quay Foyer, but in a range of places across Dorset.
As part of my apprenticeship, I still get to go to the Quay Foyer and provide career advice and information, help young people overcome their barriers and get them back into education and employment. Recently, I’ve also received an Inspiration Award at the Inaugural Foyer Awards 2017 for inspiring and helping young adults.
If I could send a message to all the young people who are going through difficult times, I’d tell them, “You’re braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.
Face Forward is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.