Four years ago, Ian James was reading mathematics at university and enjoying all the trappings of student life. But a car accident was set to change things forever.
Struggling to cope and at risk of becoming homeless, Ian (25) found help at Cangle Foyer.
“Within the space of a year, my life had changed beyond recognition. My brother, Peter, was just 26 when he died in a car accident and I was overwhelmed by his loss. At the time, I was two years into a maths degree at Wolverhampton University. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t carry on. My hopes of graduation had gone out of the window.
“I ended up moving back home to live with my parents in Haverhill but things didn’t go well. We were all grieving and living there became unbearable for me. I was deeply depressed and needed help but I didn’t know where to turn.
“My family suggested the Cangle Foyer but I didn’t think they’d be able to help someone like me. I went for a visit, met the staff and decided to give it a go. I moved in and began getting support straight away.
“First, I was enrolled onto a specially-designed wellbeing programme. This involved a weekly therapy session – a bit like counselling – where I could explore my feelings and emotions. I was able to open up about my brother and the effect his death was having on me. These sessions gave me the skills to manage my thoughts and behaviour, and develop better self-awareness.
“I also got involved in the job club and worked on my CV. This got me thinking about a career and my future generally. I wanted to get some work experience so staff at the Foyer suggested I get involved with The Prince’s Trust. I wasn’t sure at first but the staff were quite persuasive!
“I did two 12-week programmes with The Trust and got the chance to work as a volunteer at a food bank. I really enjoyed the job and I picked up some teamwork and leadership skills.
“From there, I went on to do six months of volunteering for the Cambridge Pringle Group. The job involved providing support to young people living in supported housing schemes. I worked as a mentor, offering advice to residents and accompanying them to appointments at the job centre or the doctor.
“I’m so grateful for the support I got at the Foyer. That’s why I wanted to help others. I was surprised how much I got out of it too. Having people look up to me and listen to my advice was a real confidence boost.
My own place
“In August 2016 I moved into my own flat. I’m still living within the Foyer complex but I have complete independence now. I’ve just applied to become an Army Reserve and I’ve no doubt that my volunteering experience will help me in this role.
“Looking back, I can see how far I’ve come. I was confused, anxious and depressed when I first came to the Foyer. But, with the help of the staff there – particularly my support worker, Steve Johnson – I’ve been able to overcome my problems and see a way forward.
“I think my brother would be proud”
About Cangle Foyer
At Cangle Foyer in Haverhill, Suffolk, we provide accommodation and support for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Each of the 32 residents are given a tailored support package which might include counselling, life skills courses, help finding a job or specialist support for mental health problems.
There are 22 rooms and 10 self-contained flats. The aim is to give young people the skills and support they need to move on and lead an independent, fulfilling life.