I’m researching the possibility of going to college to study either art or wildlife conservation. I think the courses look really interesting and I feel a lot more confident about studying.

Sitting on a comfortable sofa in a modest but immaculate apartment, it’s hard to envisage the difficulties that Sam* has had to overcome to be here.

For as long as he can remember, Sam has had deep rooted problems with anxiety and low self-esteem. A school life filled with bullying and claims he was simply ‘under-achieving’ severely affected his confidence and ability to lead a ordinary teenage life.

After leaving school, concerns grew even more for Sam and he was finally diagnosed with Dyspraxia in 2008.

Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and affects fine and gross motor coordination and the way that the brain processes information.

The diagnosis came as somewhat of a relief to Sam – time management, planning and personal organisation were real stumbling blocks for him. To find an explanation for the problems he had encountered throughout his education was a great reassurance to him – it wasn’t just that he was ‘under-achieving’ – there was a reason for his struggles.

Following Sam’s diagnosis he continued to live in the family home with his mother. However, his anxiety became so bad that he struggled to leave the house at all. His complete lack of confidence had grown into an all consuming fear and he struggled to have any quality of life. Despite these fears, he began to long for his own space and for the ability to stand on his own two feet. Following contact with a mental health floating support scheme, he was advised to speak to YMCA Doncaster with regards to his desire to live independently.

Although Sam had some initial reservations, he completed his application to move in to the Supported Accommodation at YMCA Doncaster. After an interview with the Accommodation Manager, he was informed that his application had been successful and he was allocated a room. The experience was extremely overwhelming for Sam to begin with. For a person struggling with social interaction and a lack of self-esteem, moving into a building with 29 other young people was an incredibly daunting experience.

Despite the drastic change in his environment, he soon got into the swing of things at YMCA Doncaster, something he puts down to his regular keyworking sessions. The sessions gave him the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about his aspirations and goals for the future. He desperately wanted to have his own space to call home and to live independently – however, this felt just too far out of his reach.

The keywork sessions continued to help Sam get to grips with everyday life skills – things that most people simply take for granted. Due to his Dyspraxia and anxiety issues, even a basic food shop seemed like an impossible task. With the help of his keyworker, he learned to build the courage and confidence to walk into a shop and ask for assistance – something that would have been unthinkable during his most difficult days.

Following the fantastic progress Sam was making, his keyworker decided to discuss an alternative to his current living arrangements. He was advised of the Private Rented Sector scheme that YMCA Doncaster was able to offer support with. The scheme would enable Sam to finally live independently – an idea he’d daren’t even dream would become a reality. He decided to enrol on the scheme and began attending regular sessions and meetings to help prepare him for independent living.

Sam still had occasional hesitations along the way. With support from the YMCA, he’s been able to build his coping techniques and confidence and really push himself to achieve. Sam’s been able to surprise himself and others by overcoming many of his struggles – including overcoming the last few hurdles to achieving independent living.

Fast forward a couple of months and Sam is the proud tenant of a fantastic 1 bedroom apartment. Thriving on the responsibility of living alone, Sam enjoys cooking, cleaning and looking after his home. On a recent visit, he couldn’t wait to give a guided tour of his new abode – as well as showing off one of his biggest achievements – a new sofa!

Looking at this young man – his face consumed by a beaming smile – it’s evident of how far he’s really come.

“Before, the thought of even walking into a shop filled me with fear and panic. However, on Saturday I got on the bus to town, headed to the YMCA’s shop, chose my sofa and arranged delivery – all by myself! I can’t explain how proud I am of getting this on my own – it is something I genuinely never thought I’d have the confidence to do.”

Sam is animated and excited when discussing his latest purchase – the change in him is truly overwhelming and he’s not stopping at living independently and enjoying his new couch. His confidence is continuing to grow and following some further discussions with his support worker, he has decided that he might give education another go too.

“I’m researching the possibility of going to college to study either art or wildlife conservation. I think the courses look really interesting and I feel a lot more confident about studying. Although I am still learning to cope with my anxiety, I’m hoping that attending college could one day lead to building friendships and a social life. I think people on the course will have things in common with me which will hopefully help to build up a friendship group. It’s all just an idea at the moment but I have already proved to myself that I’m a lot more capable than my confidence leads me to believe so who knows?! If it hadn’t been for the YMCA, I think I would have stayed living with my mum for the rest of my life and never leaving the house. Now, I have my own home and can start to build towards my future – all thanks to the YMCA!”

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