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Chelsea Bell

A Weston teen who overcame homelessness and an eating disorder has been inspired to pursue a career in youth work, following her time in supported housing.

Resident Chelsea Bell.

Chelsea Bell, 19, ended up homeless following a family breakdown and had been sofa surfing with friends for two months when she was first assessed for suitability to live at Weston Foyer, a Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL) service that provides supported accommodation for young people aged 16 to 25.

Before that, Chelsea had been living with a partner and tried to move back in with her mother when their relationship ended.

Ultimately, moving back in with her mother did not work out, and Chelsea found herself homeless.

Chelsea, who was receiving support for substance misuse at the time, was referred to the Foyer by her drug support worker so she could receive the holistic support needed to build the skills to live independently.

When she first arrived at the Foyer in March 2016, Chelsea had overcome her use of cannabis but had anorexia, no money and a lack of education. A missed appointment to register for Income Support had also resulted in a four-week sanction, leaving Chelsea in debt when she first arrived.

On moving in, Chelsea drew up a personalised support plan with staff that covered the areas in which she wished to develop her independent living skills and as a result, has overcome her anorexia, paid off money towards her arrears and is looking towards further education.

During her time at the Foyer, Chelsea was introduced by SSL project worker Lin Henman to the Grow Your Own Youth Project, an initiative that allows young people to volunteer and gain qualifications in youth work before potentially gaining employment in the project.

Her initial volunteer work at Grow Your Own was so well received that Chelsea was offered work at the project after just a few days, initially covering six hours a week and later becoming a youth worker, a position she is still working in part-time.

The initiative inspired Chelsea to pursue study towards a qualification in Youth Work at Weston College, where she is awaiting an interview in September.

If all goes to plan, Chelsea is also considering moving on to independent accommodation later this year.

Since moving to the Foyer, I’ve turned my life around; I’ve been able to get a handle on my money, look into work and education that interests me and look forward to living in a place of my own for the first time in my life.

Chelsea Bell, Resident

“I feel like I’ve come so far from where I was just less than a year ago and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring.”

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