Norwich teenager Jas Mickleburgh has fought back from losing her mother and attempting suicide to become an inspirational speaker and be named YMCA Norfolk Volunteer of the Year at a Celebration Awards night in Norwich recently. Here Jas tells her own story.
I was 12 when my mum passed away and my family unit quickly fell apart. I was trying to play the role of mum by looking after my dad and three brothers. The next five years were hell and they took their toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally.
“I attempted suicide earlier this year and, after this, I knew I needed to move out. That’s when I was advised to contact YMCA. That was six months ago and I now feel so different about things.
“The old me was too shy, too scared and in a bad emotional state to be able to take in opportunities, never mind grab them. I have gone from feeling isolated to now being able to have a voice and being listened to. I have taken time to accept myself and I use my voice as a source of strength – it’s like a new power.
“Since I moved into the YMCA in Norwich I’ve become more confident in everything I do. I have taken on the role as chair of the Norwich Youth Advisory Board and spoken about social mobility at a number of events. I have also been invited to speak soon at Westminster and at the Norfolk Governors Conference.
“I’ve recently been reminded of when I was young, I wanted to be an actor. I enjoyed playing different roles and I loved the challenge of playing new characters and re-creating myself.
“It almost feels like the YMCA has given me this platform to finally start using some of my potential. They have shown me so much, from practical steps to enjoying new positive experiences. I am starting to like and accept myself.
“I have just turned 18 and I am excited about it. My message to others like me is ‘Don’t be afraid, even if you don’t believe it YMCA will and are there to support you’.”
Pictured above, Jas Mickleburgh speaking at the YMCA?Norfolk?Celebration evening. Picture by Julia Holland.