19 September 2021

Our amazing staff at YMCA Exeter work quietly behind the scenes, helping each young person to access the support they need and begin a journey of recovery. It’s rarely straightforward, but a gradual process of tiny steps forward.

Jamie’s story of transformation is a wonderful reminder of how each staff member is essential for the part they bring to the journey.

Dressed in a black t.shirt and jeans, Jamie seems quiet and unassuming. He’s standing, surrounded by stock at the British Heart Foundation, packing items into boxes, adding labels and getting items ready for mailing.

This is Jamie’s day job, he’s a volunteer. Every day without fail, he volunteers his time at the British Heart Foundation before heading back to his shared house at YMCA Exeter’s stage 2 supported accommodation.

“I used to stay in my room all the time and never talk to anyone when I first arrived at YMCA Exeter,” Jamie explains. “The first time I came for a visit to the British Heart Foundation, my YMCA Exeter support worker did all the talking.”

“Now I can’t shut him up!” laughs British Heart Foundation Manager, Steve. “Jamie took it on himself to learn how to send out the eBay purchases, and to learn the till. He always wants to learn and takes the initiative. He’s part of the team.” 

Jamie’s journey with YMCA Exeter began in 2019, when he moved into Stage 1 supported accommodation.

“It’s taken me a while to gain confidence, but everyone at YMCA Exeter was really understanding. I’ve felt so supported since the moment I arrived,” explains Jamie.

Jamie’s story of transformation is a credit to the YMCA Exeter team. From lessons on budgeting and help with accessing income support, to friendships and time spent listening, Jamie credits his support workers with giving him the opportunities to build confidence.

“One staff member helped me to reduce my need for fizzy drinks. Another staff member invited me to start volunteering at YMCA Exeter’s Lighthouse Cafe, serving residents with takeaway food during lockdown.”

“But the thing I remember the most is being told by one support worker that my personality is like a magnet to people. He told me that I have a good attitude and that I treat people as I want to be treated. That really stuck with me.”