Clare Strong, Reflex Woking
I have always thought the young people I work with really need a place to belong. They need someone who is willing to walk with them for the long haul, who can support them through the tough times and celebrate their achievements.
Today I met one of the young men I have been working with for just over two years, he came to show me his first ever permanent work contract and he was so proud.
He was always getting into trouble growing up. In fact he was one of those teenagers who trouble seemed to follow. He just wanted to belong. School made no sense to him, and he ended up hanging out with a group of young teenagers who showed him respect.
He was eventually kicked out of school for fighting and I first met him when his Grandma asked if I had the time to chat to him. She had tried everything and didn’t know what else to do. He wouldn’t engage with education, employment, or family. Having been kicked out of his home for violence, his Grandma didn’t want him to be alone.
When he turned up for the first meeting everyone who knew him were shocked. He was very angry and very scared. We began to earn his trust, and although it wasn’t an easy journey, he began to face his struggles and issues.
He spent three weeks in a hostel awaiting a place in a supported housing project. We stood with him in prayer and worked with him to find a new path for his future.
He has now been in supported housing for two years and is ready to move into his new flat.
I began seeing him daily, then weekly, and now I see him monthly, but he always knows where to find me if he needs support or just a chat.
Meeting him last week I asked him if he had been in any trouble recently, he said he was too busy working and sorting his new flat. He has something to live for now and he’s determined not to mess this chance up.
Before we met him, nobody had told him he could achieve anything, or that he had a future. The only things people pointed out were his failings and mistakes. For me this shows that spending time helping young people achieve actually works. You have to be prepared to be there for the long haul, this is what a lot of young people are missing: a true sense of belonging and family.
I feel honoured to be working with such amazing young people and to be able to allow them the space to grow and develop into the young people God designed them to be.
Clare Strong, Senior Manager, Reflex Woking