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Get on Track – Leah

Leah, a former resident at Brighton and Hove Foyer, has been taking part in the Get on Track for Wellbeing programme, run in partnership between Sanctuary Supported Living and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

Former Sanctuary Supported Living resident Leah Aiken

Leah said: “I’d been living at Brighton and Hove Foyer for about eighteen months and was about halfway through an access course to help get into university when I started the Get on Track programme. I went to the recruitment day for the course and hearing Hannah’s story and more about what the course involved really interested me.

My routine before I started Get on Track was pretty much non-existent. I was attending college one day a week, but other than that I wouldn’t have been doing anything the rest of the time, so this gave me a reason to get up and do something on one of the other days.

It was great to hear my athlete mentor Hannah's story at the start. Firstly, it was great to hear from a professional boxer and there were some parts of her story that I could really identify with, such as family background and all of that stuff. For the first time I could see someone in front of me who had done all of these things and look where they are now. I thought that if she can do it, then I realised that anybody can.

I have quite bad social anxiety, so working in a group and learning how to talk to people I hadn’t met before was a really important skill that I learned. Also, speaking in front of a group of people when presenting our social action project was a really big thing for me. I also felt able to lead sessions as time went on throughout the programme, which was something I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing before.

It was really great working with Hannah, it was great having her as a team leader and a coach. I really appreciated how ‘to the point’ she was about things, I much prefer that than someone dancing around the subject and not really saying what they mean. I also really appreciated the feedback that I got from her, it meant I always had things to work on.

Now the programme has finished, I’m going to study psychology at the University of Kent. I’ve already moved there, as my flat became available, and I’ve already joined a few societies and made friends. I’ve put myself out there a bit, which I don’t think I would have done if I hadn’t been on Get on Track. Longer term I’d like to do a masters and the dream is to do a PhD!

As well as being something that can help you move in the right direction, the course has been a lot of fun.

Leah, former resident

I feel more confident now in my ability to speak to people or join in other activities. Before the course, I was a bit of a recluse and sometimes I’d even have a panic attack going to the shops, but I’m able to leave my flat now without that impending anxiety eating away at me.

As well as being something that can help you move in the right direction, the course has been a lot of fun, doing the activities and being around other people has been good and overall, it really does help.”

Former champion boxer, Hannah Beharry, one of the athlete mentors for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, said: “Since joining the course, Leah’s mental health has seen a huge turnaround. She used to stay in her room loads, but has now moved out of Sanctuary Supported Living, into a new place and is ready to start university. She has joined a sports club there and is also looking for bar work to help with paying her rent. She’s optimistic regarding her future and I am confident she’s going to do great things.”

Jan Weston-Shaw, Deputy Local Service Manager at Brighton and Hove Foyer, added: “We’re all so proud of how far Leah has come and everything she has achieved during her time at Brighton and Hove Foyer. As well as successfully completing the Get on Track for Wellbeing programme with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, she was also one of the first recipients of our Eight Miles Away grant, which aims to break the cycle of homelessness for young people living in Brighton. Thanks to her newly-gained confidence, her improved mental and physical wellbeing, and the funding she has received, we’re all certain she has a very bright future ahead of her.”

For more information about Sanctuary Supported Living’s services for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, see our latest news or find a service near you.

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