“Something I thought I would never achieve” - Norfolk woman’s life turned around by charity

Jess had always wanted to live independently and one year after support from local charity the Benja

Jess had always wanted to live independently and one year after support from local charity the Benjamin Foundation found a job and moved into her own house. - Credit: Archant

When Jess first arrived at Winston Court, a supported accommodation centre for vulnerable young people in North Walsham, she described herself to staff there as lacking in confidence. She had suffered from mental health issues and ended up in hospital after a breakdown in family relations. That was in 2017. One year later she is living independently and has a job.

'I feel like a new person to be honest,' she said. 'Having a place of my own is something I thought I would never achieve.'

Jess had always 'craved independence' but while at home had suffered from 'mental health issues',

The accommodation centre is run by the Benjamin Foundation, a Norfolk-based charity seeking to prevent homelessness.

Jess lived for seven months at Winston Court, where she was mentored by Sharon Coggins, a job coach, and Rob Bray, a support worker.

She was initially 'quite low in herself', Ms Coggins said.

Ms Coggins works mostly with 16 to 25 year old people, helping them with CVs and application forms. 'I look at them and ask, what don't you want to do? What do you want to do? Let's see how you can do it.'

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Ms Coggins and Jess explored various options for courses but nothing seemed quite right until they met again in January, when Jess expressed an interest in youth work. Although she did not have enough money to fund her studies, she applied to the Princes Trust Development Award for financial assistance and was successful in securing £140 towards the course.

Sharon helped Jess get a bursary to cover the balance.

The foundation receives in excess of fifteen referrals a month from the county council social services.

Rob Bray, support worker, said: 'Our role is to lead them towards living independently.'

The Norwich Sleep Out, an annual event in aid of the Benjamin Foundation which allows participants to see for themselves what it might feel like to be homeless, is now only over one week away.

This year it is taking place on November 15 at Norwich City Football Club on Carrow Road.

To find out more visit: https://benjaminfoundation.co.uk/sleep-out-2018

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