Hi my name is Channitta I am a support worker at the YMCA. I enjoy my role because not only does it allow me to work within a great team but it also lets me support such a diverse group of residents.
The reason I came to work at the Foyer is because I was once a resident myself as I had personally faced homelessness and at the time I thought that life was difficult. Through the YMCA I joined the Prince‘s Trust community impact award scheme where we fundraised the money to go to Bulgaria and decorate an orphanage. Whilst we were we bought them the tools to help the orphanage make more candles, so they had a constant income to help support themselves. At that point I realised that my life was not as hard as I thought, as I saw first hand, people who were living in actual poverty. This is what gave me the passion to want to work with those going through struggles; and who better than those I have an understanding of. The whole experience made me realise I’m part of something greater, bigger than just my own circumstances.
I feel my understanding has allowed me to form good bonds with residents as they know I have been in their shoes and managed to change my life around. They can hopefully draw inspiration from that and do the same. I understand the pressures of hostel life and have seen first hand how for some people, it can be a struggle, as they adapt, fit in and be themselves.
The YMCA encourages diversity and also inclusiveness. The best thing about my job is that I can work with our residents to help them find out who they are. It’s that realisation, that they don’t need to conform, to fit in. They can be themselves and in doing so, bring lots of benefits to the wider hostel community. At the YMCA, we focus on group activities. These allow residents to see that they all have something different and unique to offer and that this is not a bad thing. Inclusivity is the key to a successful group activity.
It’s about celebrating the fact that no one is the same and yet each individual brings different skills to the table. This allows them to be successful together and when the residents realise this, it is very rewarding to watch!
To encourage inclusiveness we encourage residents to bond emotionally, physically and intellectually, through a balanced, healthy lifestyle. We also offer activities that are focused around their well-being and how they would like to prepare for life outside our accommodation projects. To team build, we offer things such as the gym, cookery club and fun activities. Additionally, through our Skills 4 courses, we offer educational activities, such as preparing for employment and making a CV. Where possible we aim to make educational trips such as to the National History Museum and Racism Rocks. We support residents spiritually, by offering bible studies and classes such as yoga in a room called the zone of peace which residents came together to help create and decorate.
The YMCA values everyone for who they are because in doing so we are all able to learn from one another, dream bigger, be inspired to overcome, become stronger, fear less, laugh more and ultimately put the past behind us and move on to a brighter tomorrow.
How we see living out the call to be inclusive, can best be described by the Hawaiian word, Ohana which, to quote Disney, means “family” and “family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”. I think that sums it up perfectly!