I had lived with elderly people for so long. I was worried about staying here with so many young people and I assumed they would be rough which was a very stereotypical approach that I quickly realised was wrong.
At 18 years old Eleanor left her alcoholic mother, and everything she knew, and moved to Doncaster to live with her Grandad. Eleanor’s Grandad had dementia and needed constant care. It was hard work, but Eleanor didn’t mind, because she loved him. “He was amazing, and I was happy to be in his company,” she smiled.
After six months, her Grandad sadly died and Eleanor found herself living alone in his house. Whilst grieving for her loss, she found out the family had decided to kick her out. It was the middle of winter; she was young and scared, yet still they cut the utilities to the property.
Eleanor moved in with her Grandad’s sister, who was also suffering from dementia. Again, Eleanor found herself caring full time for an elderly relative. During the next 12 months Eleanor’s mental health deteriorated; she couldn’t do this any longer.
Age 19 she left, and went to the only place she felt safe. Eleanor broke into her Grandad’s empty house and squatted there for 2 months. Her mental health spiralled out of control and she formulated a plan to end her own life.
Desperately in need of help she rang her Aunt’s carer, this was the turning point for Eleanor. She stayed with her for a week, and during this time, the carer brought her to YMCA Doncaster to fill in an application for housing.
Eleanor never knew there was housing at YMCA Doncaster. She had seen the charity shop but assumed YMCA was a religious group that only helped men.
“I had lived with elderly people for so long. I was worried about staying here with so many young people and I assumed they would be rough which was a very stereotypical approach that I quickly realised was wrong,” she admitted. “Everyone was super friendly.”
Eleanor was given support to work through her grieving process. She joined every group that she could. She attended Client Forum meetings and Shadow Board meetings, and she loved the pool tournaments and trips. She spent lots of time with the young people around her, making up for the time she had missed. She had spent so long surrounded by elderly people that this was something she enjoyed more than anything.
Whilst staying at YMCA Doncaster, Eleanor received support from her keyworker to help her access training which she recently completed and she will soon be commencing a volunteering role.
Eleanor will be celebrating her 21st birthday next week, and she has just received a fantastic birthday present – the keys to her own flat.
Her future is looking good. She has made strong friendships and has aspirations to become a carer or keyworker, stating “If I could be as good as the keyworkers I have had at YMCA Doncaster, I would be doing great.”
“It’s great having a normal life, and feeling loved and supported,” she smiled. “I have learned that, as a person, I am actually OK.”
There are many ways you can support our work with young people like Eleanor. Please click here for information on how you might be able to help.