Ex-resident Tiyana, who now has a job and two unconditional Uni offers, says Cllr Sharon Thompson’s story has been an inspiration
08 JUL 2016

Ex St Basils resident Tiyana, now 19 (pictured centre) worked nights whilst at college and now has two unconditional Uni offers to study Criminology with Sociology! She got in touch recently, keen to tell us how St Basils and another ex-resident, Cllr Sharon Thompson, have helped her.  

Tiyana lived at St Basils for around a year from July 2013. She says “It just wasn’t safe at home anymore. St Basils helped me leave”.

“I was really scared coming to St Basils, I was 16 and I’d never lived by myself before. At first I lived at Shaftesbury House in Moseley, which was a supported accommodation project for girls only with staff there full-time. Then I moved on to the semi-independent project, Sandford House, sharing facilities with the other residents. Then from there I moved into my own flat, that was scary as well, and I wasn’t prepared for all the bills, but my Support Worker helped me set up payment plans and I’ve been there 2 years now.”

“I’m really pleased to have got unconditional offers from two local Universities based on my academic record, but I don’t think I would’ve got to this stage without all the experiences I gained through St Basils”.

“The staff at Shaftesbury House used to try and bring us residents together to get us to socialise and I became Resident Rep there which meant I could be a part of the Youth Council. The Youth Council was just being set up when I was at St Basils. It was good to get together with the other projects’ Residents Reps and plan the launch at Conybere Gardens. I was deputy Chair of the planning committee and helped with splitting up tasks and allocating who was doing what. It was great to create something positive with other young people at St Basils and it naturally brought us closer together.”

“I did loads with the Youth Council. Some highlights were being on interview panels at St Basils, travelling to other St Basils projects and talking at their residents meetings about the role of the Youth Council, going to London for the British Youth Council and meeting with the then Crime Commissioner Bob Jones which I found particularly interesting. Sam (St Basils Youth Engagement Officer) also took us to meet and talk with Cllr Sharon Thompson at the Council House too. I loved being in the Council office and I was really quite inspired by Sharon who came to St Basils as well at 16 and lived at Sandford Road, just like me. She was really positive about what we could achieve in the future and I know she’s achieved loads, being both a judge and a Councillor whilst studying as well.  Some people think that you’re stuck once you’re in a ‘hostel’ and that it will limit you, but positive role models like Sharon really help.”

“Being at St Basils gave me the motivation to go to college. My supporter worker Josie really helped me with that too, she really encouraged me, even offering to take me to the Open Days.”

“St Basils helped me get my first job which was in a Care Home. The Learning, Skills and Work team helped with clothes for the interview and paid for my DBS. I also did a week long employability programme with the facilities management company Interserve and that really helped me look at my skills, my CV and helped me prepare for the interview questions too. I got the job and worked there for a year and 4 months. Now I work as a support worker at another charity but St Basils gave me a jump-start and that’s where it all began.”

“In the future I hope to do something with young people and the Law. I’m interested in History and Law and why criminals do what they do. I think often it’s due to factors in wider society and would be better if the Law looked into the reasons behind it and tackled that rather than just focusing on sentencing”.

“I feel like I’m going somewhere now and just need to keep focused on my college deadlines and not let work distract me. It’s all about balance.“

“I still volunteered for St Basils occasionally even after I left. It’s made me feel much more confident about talking in public. I did a talk at a schools’ SleepOut in aid of St Basils to share my story and people in the audience were crying! I think it helped show them that some people have no choice. I had these young teenagers coming up to me afterwards saying ‘so sorry to hear what happened’.”

“If I could give some advice to other young people at St Basils now, like Sharon gave me, it would be ‘Take full advantage of all the services on offer and the opportunities. It’ll mean more things on your CV and the staff can act as referees for you. Get involved as there’s so much life experience you can gain from it and transferable skills you can use in every part of life. Having to come here isn’t an ideal experience, but use it and it will help you”.

Interview took place June 2016