Living independently has completely changed my life. It has given me the confidence to be assertive in my own right.

Living within a happy and friendly community is a drastic change for Leanne* and whilst she is out helping her 6 year old neighbour find her cat, she realises how much her life has transformed.

Up until 6 months ago Leanne was living with her mother, with whom she had a very difficult relationship. Surrounded by constant arguing, Leanne’s long standing battle with depression was beginning to consume her life.

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and a sense of well being. Statistics have shown that nearly 80,000 children and young people in the UK suffer from severe depression.

Although encompassed by her depressive state, Leanne felt that the only way things would improve was to move out of her mother’s home to create a calmer environment. She did not want her relationship with her mum to deteriorate even further and to reach a point of no return.

During a conversation with her friend Emma*, Leanne was introduced to the idea of taking part in the Private Rented Sector scheme at YMCA Doncaster. Although she hadn’t heard of the YMCA before or what they did, she was interested in the prospect of independent living and began to entertain the idea of being able to gain some control of her life once again. Emma had already enrolled on the scheme and encouraged Leanne to come down to the YMCA and learn more about it.

Once she had received some further information about the Private Rented Sector scheme and learnt that the YMCA would match her with a suitable housemate, Leanne decided that this was her opportunity to try and improve her life. She enrolled on the programme and showed impressive enthusiasm and willing during her support sessions.

Leanne and Emma decided they would like to live together and following thorough and careful consideration, the YMCA agreed that this was a great idea. They knew each other, got on and felt comfortable with one another. This would hopefully make the transition to independent living a little easier for them both. They attended support sessions at the YMCA which included learning about budgeting and understanding a tenancy agreement; the key skills that would help them achieve their desire to live independently.

Although Leanne was excited about the prospect of moving from her mother’s, her depression made things feel very overwhelming and the negative feelings and emotions she was experiencing made her feel anxious about the move. However, the YMCA were on hand to help her understand what support she was entitled to and she began to slowly gain confidence and the self-belief that she could achieve her goal.

Moving into their new property on a bustling and friendly street, Leanne and Emma had put their newly acquired budgeting skills into practice to save for the pieces of furniture they needed to make their house a home. They received ongoing support from YMCA Doncaster in learning the practical basics of living independently such as cleaning and household maintenance.

“Living independently has completely changed my life. It has given me the confidence to be assertive in my own right. We recently had a problem with our gas and I took it upon myself to make the call to them to resolve the issue. Previously, I would never have had the confidence to do that and even thinking about it would have made me so anxious! I am so grateful for the YMCA, I feel really comfortable talking to them and if I receive any letters I need help with, I know I can just pop into the Community Centre and someone will be there to offer guidance and support.”

Things have taken even more of a surprising turn for Leanne who recently discovered she has a brother, David*. Since their first meeting, the siblings have bonded and following Emma’s decision to move in with her partner, David will be joining Leanne and enjoying the house that she has worked so hard to make a home.

“If someone had told me 6 months ago I would be living in my own home with my brother I would have thought they were joking! I can hardly recognise my life now and am so pleased that I have control once again. I’ve become very house proud and enjoy looking after my home. I’m currently saving for some dining room chairs so that I can put the finishing touches to the downstairs and I’ll be able to invite my friends round for tea which will be great! My depression has improved a huge amount and I have a lot less ‘down’ days which has helped me to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The best thing to come out of this whole experience has been that the relationship between me and my mum is better than ever. A little bit of space has given us the opportunity to work at things and she is so proud of how far I’ve come. I am so happy that I have a good relationship with her now and she even helped to find me a stand for my TV! I’m once again able to enjoy time spent with her and we are not at loggerheads which is so much better for both of us. My plans for the future are to continue to enjoy living independently and continuing to build on the relationship with my mum. I am so thankful for the ongoing support I receive from the YMCA – they have helped to transform my life and given me opportunities I never thought I’d have.”

There are many ways you can support our work with young people like Leanne.  Please click here for information on how you might be able to help.