As much loved staff member – Lynton Adams- bids farewell to YMCA Norfolk to move back to London, we reflect on his exceptional transition from service user to long-term staff member.
Lynton grew up in London, and after falling in with the wrong crowd was exposed to a life of crime and drugs – which eventually led to a prison sentence. He was in and out of prison and number of times, and on his final sentence, a drug worker came to his cell and offered him some assistance; at this time, Lynton says he was finally ready to accept this help.
On release, he had an assessment with a rehabilitation centre in Norwich; and they accepted him for the day he came out of prison. He got on a train to Norwich, and went into treatment for eight months. Once his treatment had finished, he decided to stay in Norwich – following advice from the centre that he should relocate from London; changing his environment and social circle.
His resettlement worker contacted YMCA Norfolk on his behalf. He was invited for an assessment to access our accommodation services. Lynton was interviewed by Martin Rye – who worked within housing at the time and is now the Income and Housing Development Manager for YMCA Norfolk. Despite what Lynton recalls as a tough interview, he was accepted and provided with a room at YMCA’s housing on St. Giles Street, Norwich. Lynton describes being scared, but feeling supported in a way which had never been before.
After 18 months staying at the YMCA, Lynton said he felt equipped with the tools to gain independence, and began looking at social accommodation with the help of his support worker. He was provided with a flat through Norwich City Council, and immediately began looking for a job. Initially, he was declined for a role with another service provider, as they argued he would be a risk to their clients. He volunteered at the treatment centre, and then went onto employment, but sadly was made redundant after three years. Despite gaining qualifications, Lynton said he felt like he was back to square one; unemployed, receiving benefits and struggling to find work.
After a year of job hunting, Lynton bumped into his former YMCA support worker, Martin, walking down Anglia Square, who asked what he was up to. Lynton explained how he was unemployed and looking for work, and Martin offered him a volunteering role at Throckmorton Yard. Six months later, Lynton was employed as a support worker within YMCA Norfolk’s housing.
Almost ten years later, following a successful career at YMCA, Lynton said: “Working at YMCA has meant seeing our young people grow. I see them from assessment, to moving, to support, and then to their own housing. To see that transformation – you just can’t beat that. That’s what’s kept me here for ten years.
“Naturally, as human beings, we make judgement. What I’ve learnt from working at YMCA is you can’t judge a book by its cover, because you don’t know when that person’s going to change. It’s been great to walk alongside our young people, and seeing that change. I walk around the city, and they say ‘thank you for what you’ve done for me’ – that is priceless, you can’t beat that.
Lynton has recently decided to leave YMCA Norfolk, to return to London and be closer to his family:
“Leaving YMCA Is the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. It’s one of the hardest places to leave, because this is where I grew up; from service user to where I am today. It’s tough but I have family in London – my kids and grandkids are in London, but part of me will always be in Norfolk.
“My hopes for the future are to carry on inspiring and supporting others; making a difference in the community I live in rather than taking, which is what I’ve done previously,” he said.
“I came to YMCA as an adult, when I was at a point where nothing or no one could get through to me. The support, encouragement and empowerment that YMCA delivered to me has helped me become the person I wanted to be; hope filled, inspired and a productive member of society.”
We wish Lynton all the best for the future, and can’t thank him enough for his ongoing commitment to transforming young lives during his time with YMCA Norfolk.