Two young people engaged with Learning, Skills and Work (LSW) staff at Aston based scheme John Austin Court, share their stories and thoughts on a number of LSW programmes including the most recent trip to Lake Coniston last month, as part of the Mental Skills Training.
Heidi, 17, who has lived in Birmingham all her life came to St Basils in October 2014. She said: “My Dad died when I was 13 so I had to go and live with my Mum but she had an abusive partner. She left him and took me with her but I didn’t feel very secure where we ended up, so that’s how I came to be here”.
“I like it here. They’re not on your back all the time but if you need help they’re there for you. They’re very supportive of what you need to do and where you need to be. I’ve told my Support Worker that I want to go to University so they’re trying to help me with that now. They’ve helped me with the application form and they’re helping me apply for funding.
I always wanted to go to University. I’ve always wanted to achieve that. I think it’s just what’s needed these days and I want to do Law so it is needed for that. I want to be a Barrister actually, the ones that are actually in court with the wigs. I don’t know where it’s come from but I feel like I want to be able to make a difference and give people justice. I want to help people where it’s needed.
I’m doing Law, Psychology and History A-levels and it is Criminal Law I found most interesting. To do Law at University is very competitive though. Most courses only have a few places.
At St Basils I am Resident Rep here (at John Austin Court) and I’m also part of St Basils Youth Council. I’m at sixth form during the day but soon I’m going to be a part of interview panels at St Basils so that’s all helpful experience. I’ve had my training for that. I think it’s good that St Basils does get young people involved in the interview panels for frontline staff. This is where you live and you need to get on with the Support Workers because they’re who you come to if you’ve got a problem. It is really important so it’s good that you feel like you’ve got the opportunity to do that.
I’ve been doing the Mental Skills Training (MST) at St Basils the last few weeks. I liked it because you don’t get that opportunity anywhere else. They don’t offer you that in sixth form. Also it aims to teach you things you can apply in any situation. It builds you up and helps your communication skills and you can apply that in any situation.
I like to take the lead and I wasn’t sure whether I would get on with the others but considering the skills we’d learnt before, I managed to apply that.
We went on a high ropes course. I was quite scared of that and but then we did a zip wire course and I was the first person to go on that. I wanted to be the first person because I’d been so scared on the high ropes.
Here at St Basils I’m doing the Life Skills programme too. I did two modules as part of the Life Skills then it got put on hold because of my exams. I’ve done budgeting and cooking so far. I did PASA (Pay Ahead Stay Ahead) and my Supporter Worker made a budgeting plan with me – money in and money out. I like baking anyway. I used to love to do it but I just can’t now. I’d love to eat a whole cake on my own but I’d feel guilty.
I was a resident Rep from late November. You’re the bridge between the residents and the staff so any communication you’ve got to get that across. If there’s any problem some people might not want to come direct to staff.
I feel like I’ve changed as a person at St Basils. I have changed through sixth form anyway but I have changed here as well, obviously I’m much happier now. It is hard being the age I am, being on my own, with my Mum and Dad not around. I wouldn’t have been able to do that so easily without the support workers here and their help guiding me through any problems.
I would say to other young people get involved as there’s a lot of opportunities that other people don’t have and that won’t come up again, they’re all going to benefit you, just go for it.”
Dean, 22, also lives at John Austin Court and has also done the Mental Skills Training course.
Dean said: “I’m glad I came here. I just knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere at home. I’ve been here 4 months and I feel a little bit more confident now in myself because I feel like I can manage my own home, I like the responsibility that brings and I know I have the support of the staff.
The Mental Skills Training (MST) was really good. I liked the whole trip and I really liked the zip line. I did the kayaking too and walked about 8 miles up a big hill (The old man of Coniston) which took about 2-3 hours there, 2 hours back. It was really good fun though. I’d do it again.
I didn’t think I’d be able to do any of it, I was so nervous about it and to be honest I didn’t want to go on the trip at all but my Support Workers convinced me to go and I’m really glad I did now.
The support workers here are great. I’m learning a lot from them. They listen and I can really talk to them. They’re fun but I can be myself around them. I can be quite nervous but they make me feel like I don’t have to worry about anything. I feel much more confident round them.
I’m just finishing St Basils Life Skills course now too. I was cooking fried chicken with rice and peas at the weekend, with a little bit of help but I can cook waffles, pizza and lasagne on my own in the oven.
I’ve done budgeting as well and I liked how my support worker approached it. She related it to my life and we’d have a chat about it and a laugh but then always come back to the task in hand.
I’ve only been here 4 months but they’re starting to talk to me about the future now. I’m interested in volunteering with care homes and becoming a health care assistant for older people or those with mental health problems. Members of my family have been in Care Homes. My Nan is in one now and it makes me feel better to know that someone is there to talk to her and it’s something I would want to do because it’s not their fault they’re going that way and their families can’t always help, not because they don’t want to or don’t love them or anything, but because they need special help and if I can give them that help then that’s what I want to do, to let them know someone still cares about them so don’t give up.
I’m passionate about learning disabilities as well, so that’s something else I’m thinking about. I’ve got Dyspraxia. It affects your bones and your balance, but it’s just something I get on with really. I’ve got ADHD too but I don’t let it hold me back. It just means there’s certain things I have to work harder at than other people, but my little brother has Autism and he doesn’t really have anyone other than me and my Mum. We’re the only ones that really know how to talk to him so I just spend any free time I have chilling with him and talking and playing.
The Care Homes don’t advertise for volunteers though so I’ve got to start writing letters and praying I can get a placement with them as any kind of work experience can help and you’ll always have that experience then. If that doesn’t work I’ll be looking at the hospital route, trying to get a job there and work my way up".
The photos were taken on the June 2015 Mental Skills Training trip to Lake Coniston which Heidi and Dean were a part of.