Deprivation and family breakdown are two major causes of homelessness amongst young people in the UK. Thomas is one of the many young people who have found themselves on the street following family difficulties, with little going for him and a seemingly impossible task to get his life on track. With support from Step Together to secure a volunteer position as a Youth Worker, Thomas now feels he belongs somewhere and is looking forward to a brighter future.
Thomas spent most of his childhood with his mum and two brothers. The family struggled financially and, after a relationship breakdown with his mother, at the age of only 19 Thomas felt his only hope was to move away. Over the next 5 years, Thomas found himself moving around a lot and homeless on two occasions. Sleeping rough around Wigan town centre, he felt he had hit rock bottom.
In February 2016, Thomas was introduced to Step Together’s Volunteering Project Manager, Sheri, at the hostel he lives in. Thomas wanted to do something positive in his community and already had an idea that he would like to work with young people, to help others learn from his own experiences. With Sheri’s help, Thomas gained a position at Wigan Youth Zone as a Volunteer Youth Worker. After successfully starting his role, Thomas then decided he wanted to volunteer more of his time and again with Sheri’s help, applied for the Community Warehouse, associated with the homeless charity The Brick, who had previously assisted Thomas with food parcels. Thomas is really enjoying volunteering as is he learning new skills and feels he is giving something back.
‘Volunteering has given me peace of mind, a purpose. I feel needed, like I belong somewhere. Before I was volunteering, I felt a spare part and a massive lack of sense of achievement. My life came to a standstill. But now I feel really good. I’m achieving things – like awards. I know that when I leave the hostel, good things await’
Thomas is going from strength to strength and looks forward to pursuing a career working as a Support Worker for young people. He is currently volunteering twice a week at Community Warehouse and three times a week at Wigan Youth Zone, where he was awarded ‘Volunteer of the Month’ in July - a wonderful achievement!