Young people can become homeless for all sorts of reasons.

Here you will find stories of young people who have been previously helped by YMCA. Some left home to get away from shocking abuse; others were simply been kicked out. But whatever their past, YMCA gave them hope for a better future.

You can help give vulnerable young people hope for a better future by becoming a Roomsponsor for just 40p a day.


“YMCA has been the difference between life and death.”


When we first met Chelsea, she was suffering from extreme anxiety. This was hardly surprising as we learnt over time that she had been sexually abused by a family member when she was just six years old.

This horrific trauma was at the root of her multiple and undiagnosed mental health difficulties. Chelsea was hearing voices in her head and having flashbacks.

Aged 15, living on the streets, Chelsea found YMCA. A safe place to stay provided the starting point to Chelsea’s recovery. But she needed specialist help to get over the many deeply traumatic experiences of her childhood.

Chelsea struggled with one-to-one counselling sessions. So we encouraged her to join the group arts and crafts therapy sessions at YMCA.

Chelsea has come a long way in the last few months. She’s reconnected with her family, and she’s working towards getting the qualifications she needs to be a Mental Health Nurse.


“To actually come into a room, with a bath I could use and a bed I could sleep in was amazing – for the first time in years I wasn’t scared anymore.”


Ray was brought up by his father and didn’t have any contact with his mother’s side of the family, but he and his dad always had a difficult and troubled relationship.

With no family to turn to for help, Ray’s only protection from the cold weather and dangerous streets was an abandoned car. With nowhere to wash properly and little to eat, Ray became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital with a kidney infection.

YMCA was able to provide Ray with a room. We gave him the support he needed to start to build a more stable future. Having somewhere safe to stay, somewhere he could keep warm and clean, meant the world to Ray.

As Ray says

“The stability of having a room, and people who’ll support you, it changes your life. It means so much to know there’s somebody out there who cares, somebody who sees me as a human being and believes in me.”


“Without help from YMCA, I’d probably be dead. It has been a real lifeline.” 


Mel’s parents split when she was 12 years old, so she lived between her mum’s and dad’s houses. Then she started hanging out with an older crowd and using drugs and alcohol…  eventually she dropped out of school.

Her relationship with her parents broke down completely, so at age 16 Mel left home and started sleeping on friends’ sofas. She slept rough, too – breaking into abandoned buildings. Finally, desperate for help, Mel got in touch with YMCA.

Mel found the safety and security of a roof over her head, she gained the support she needed to make a new start. Over time, YMCA encouraged her to re-sit her qualifications – and go on to earn a degree.

But after she finished university Mel couldn’t find a paid job. In spite of all her best efforts, employers wouldn’t hire Mel without experience, and she found herself homeless again.

YMCA was there when Mel needed us a second time. As Mel bravely worked through her problems, she learnt the skills she needed to live independently, she now has a full-time job at YMCA, teaching arts and sewing to other residents.