Y-Life relaunch puts lads back on track
has successfully relaunched its Y-Life
personal development programme for residents and is now looking for a Norwich
community project to tackle in a second course.
On March 28, seven residents from the YMCA Hostel on St Giles St in Norwich celebrated the successful completion of the programme with a presentation and reception at Dragon Hall.
After a gap of a year, the YMCA restarted the Y-Life course in January, with support from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, and over 12 weeks participants took part in a range of activities designed to prepare them for work and independent living.
At the end of January the course spent a week at Lakeside YMCA by Lake Windermere where they took part in a number of challenging exercises to help build tolerance, confidence team spirit. Andrew Thrower who has lived in the hostel for 11 months said: “The week taught us a lot about ourselves. Not only did it show us the importance of good communication and teamwork but it also allowed us to face up to some personal challenges. For me it was a fear of heights.”
Throughout the 12 weeks, course participants received instruction in a number of life skills such as first aid, health and safety and budgeting. They also received 30 hours of IT training at Paston College in North Walsham. All the skills count towards a City and Guilds Certificate of Achievement.
The participants also tackled a community project, renovating the garden and redecorating the flat of an elderly man. The garden was overgrown and spoiling the neighbourhood, leading to complaints from other local residents.
The team had to plan the work and obtain the materials they needed. They approached local companies who provided tremendous support and the team also raised money by washing cars to cover other costs.
Participant, Mark Pepperell, said: “When Ridgeons told us we could have some gravel on the last day there was a great sense of relief and satisfaction at a job well done.” The garden was transformed and the neighbours were grateful.”
The final phase of the course involved completing a two-week work placement in conjunction with the Business in the Community Business Action on Homelessness Programme.
Placements were arranged with a number of companies including Norfolk County Services, Mark’s and Spencer’s, EDF Energy and Archant. The programme not only finds work placements but also provides ongoing support to help find permanent jobs.
Marc Burton, who had a placement with Norfolk County Services, said: “the placement helped to get us back into the routine of working and we were made really welcome, which helped our confidence.” The course impressed their employers so much that two of them have been offered the opportunity for permanent work.
As the first of the new Y-Life Courses finished, acting team Leader Richard Middleton, who until last summer was a serving officer in the RAF, said: “I have enjoyed running the course; they are a genuine group of men who just want to get their lives straight.
“Although there have been some difficult times, the team has worked through them and they can all be proud of their achievements. The homeless unemployed face many barriers to getting back into work, not least of which is the fear of becoming homeless again. I think the Y-Life Course has given them the confidence to overcome some of those barriers. They have all gained new skills and developed others. They are ready to move on from the hostel and live independently in the community.”
A new course runs from the end of April until July and the Y-Life team is looking for a new community project to tackle in May or June.
“We are looking for a project which will give the team a sense of achievement; ideally, one where they will see a finished product,” said Richard. “It needs to be something that can be completed in about five days and bearing in mind that they have to raise the money to pay for the project it should not be too resource dependent, unless the sponsor is providing material.”
The new permanent Y-Life team leader is Adam Baker, who is also from the RAF. If you have a suitable project contact Adam on 07894 935777.
Pictured above are the first Y-Life participants at Lake Windermere and in the finished garden project.