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Jamie’s journey from sofa surfing to Great Yarmouth role model

24 August 2018

A year ago he was living on his family and friends’ sofas, but today ‘role model’ Jamie Copping has transformed his fortunes thanks to YMCA Norfolk.

So much so that the Great Yarmouth man was recently nominated for a national YMCA Young Volunteer of the Year award for his work with YMCA Norfolk.

After a relationship breakdown left him homeless, Jamie was forced to move from sofa to sofa to stay off the streets.

But when the uncertainty became too much, he approached the council for advice and they suggested he speak to YMCA Norfolk. The next day he was given a bed in their Great Yarmouth hostel.

Although he admits to feeling scared on his first night, he believes it was thanks to support from staff that he was able to turn his fortunes around.

He said: “They help you out when you don’t know where else to go. They get you back and pull you in the right direction.”

More than just providing accommodation, YMCA Norfolk helps residents build confidence and skills through a range of activities and volunteer opportunities. Jamie is about to become a fully qualified archery instructor thanks to the YMCA’s work with outdoor adventure company Ascend Adventure.

In March, Jamie swapped Great Yarmouth for Kenya as part of a two-week visit organised by the Christian charity.

The group of seven, made up of residents, volunteers and staff, wanted to strengthen relations with sister organisations in Nairobi and Mombasa.

As well as learning about Kenyan culture, the Norfolk team delivered donations of books, pens and sanitary items collected back home.

The trip was Jamie’s first time abroad and he said the experience changed the way he viewed his own life.

He added: “1,000 feet in the air on the plane I looked down and thought ‘is this actually happening?’ I realised how much I take for granted, like how we have running water and can just go to the tap and drink.”

On returning to the UK, Jamie said his confidence and independence are continuing to grow.

Jamie has also volunteered with the YMCA Norfolk garden project and represented it at the YMCA National Conference in July, an event which Norwich will host in 2019.

He said: “The activities have built up my confidence a lot. Before I was involved with the YMCA I didn’t want to do much, but now I know I’m helping out and making a difference.”

Article courtesy of EDP24