16 January 2017
When self-confessed rebel Lee first moved into a YMCA Norfolk house in King’s Lynn he was not ready to change his rebellious ways, but a second chance came along, and he grasped it with both hands.
Lee moved into the YMCA’s Woolstencroft house in July 2013, but he was not ready to take advantage of the opportunity he was given.
“I tried to rebel against the rules and boundaries set up in house,” said Lee. “I would smoke cannabis in my room, not attend meetings, and not pay all my rent or only part payment. I would not listen to my support keyworker, Kathy and I wasn’t ready to change.”
Lee was given chance after chance, but when he did not respond he was asked to leave in January 2014 “When I left it was a bit like ‘what now with nowhere to go and no support’. I ended up being taken in by another hostel, did a bit of work and some volunteering at the Discovery Centre in North Lynn, but again my bills and rent arrears caught up with me. I was asked to leave.
“I was at rock bottom, sofa surfing and living in a tent and trying every hostel to get place to stay. The one positive in my life was my daughter, Luna-Rose, who was born on February 22, 2015.
“My prayers were answered when I was contacted by Nadine at the YMCA to come for an assessment. When I arrived I saw a familiar face – it was Kathy who, despite knowing my old ways, put me at ease. She told me that things had changed and I would not get away with what I did in the past – boundaries and expectations were made clear.
“I was nervous, not sure of what was going to happen, but when they offered me a room I was determined to make it work this time.
“I had Kathy and Nadine supporting me and focussed on my goals for the future – the penny finally dropped – the days of fighting the rules and not paying rent had to stop,” said Lee.
“I have a beautiful baby daughter who is my world and I wanted her to come and visit in daddy’s house. I was still attending the Discovery Centre and volunteering most days a week, I was settled at Woolstencroft paying my rent and focussing on being the best parent I could be to my little girl.
“I was given an interview to become a peer mentor for the Discovery Centre. I got the job and was over the moon – I have been mentoring young people and love it.”
The final piece of jigsaw fell into place for Lee when he was given his moving-on letter, which means he will finally get a place of his own.
“My story shows you can make mistakes in life and you need to learn from them,” said Lee. “The support was there but I wasn’t ready to change. I had to learn the hard way, sofa surfing and sleeping in a tent.
“By next Christmas I will be in my own place with my baby daughter putting up decorations in daddy’s house and looking forward to a positive future.
“So to Kathy and Nadine and the whole YMCA Norfolk team, thank you for believing in me, supporting me and giving me the encouragement to reach my potential – without you guys I may been still living in my tent.”
Self-confessed rebel Lee is on the way to reaching his potential. Picture posed by a model.