21 August 2015

YMCA believes that all young people should be able to reach their full potential. This story about Nigel is a story about a young man who over the last few years has experienced some hardships, but who is now on his way to finally reaching his full potential… 

Nigel first came in touch with the YMCA when he moved in to the hostel at YMCA Wimbledon in 2013.

The incident leading to Nigel becoming homeless is a raw and powerful story of how one young man’s life is turned upside down in an instant, and how one’s future isn’t always up to oneself to determine…

Attacked in the street

Before Nigel came to YMCA Wimbledon, he had been an ambitious young man who studied at college and dreamed of a career in photography.

However one evening, Nigel was attacked and stabbed. The events that followed changed his life.

I was walking through an alleyway when two young men attacked me and stabbed me in the stomach. I pulled the knife out and in doing so, injured my hand badly. In an act of self-defence, I then slashed the knife towards one of my attackers. As the attack happened by someone’s front garden, there was a commotion. The police were called and I was brought in to the station, with allegations that I had attempted to burgle the house and attack the young men who attacked me. I was not taken to hospital. Eventually the police noticed I was very weak and in pain, and I got treatment for my injuries,” says Nigel.

Although Nigel was eventually seen to by a medic, the horrors of that night were still not over.

At 3am in the morning, the police raided my parents’ house, and told them I was a burglar. As one can imaginee, although it wasn’t true, this put a massive strain on my relationship with my parents and made it hard for me to move back in,” Nigel says.

Forced to quit college

Cutting a long story short, the allegations against Nigel were eventually dropped.

However because of what happened, he had to quit college and he also became homeless. With nowhere else to go, he ended up at YMCA Wimbledon, where he stayed whilst he was recovering from the three surgeries.

Basically, his whole life had changed that night.

I had to accept Jobseekers Allowance, something I’d never done before,” he says. “I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. I got very depressed. My whole life had been turned upside down and I didn’t know what kind of jobs I would be able to apply for, after the incident.”

I felt like everything was lost, and wondered how was my life supposed to go back to the way it had been.”

Back on track

One day, while he was working out in the gym at YMCA Wimbledon, Nigel was approached by the Health & Wellbeing team at YMCA St Paul’s Group, who were putting on a programme called Get on Track for young people aged 16-25 who were not in training, education or employment.

I had nothing better to do, so I signed up,” Nigel said.

Get on Track lifted Nigel out of the downward spiral of inactivity and depression he had fallen in to after the incident.

Get on Track gave me a more positive outlook on things”. Following the programme, he has had several jobs and now has a place to live. He recently bought himself a new camera, and is hoping to take up his old passion of photography again.

In the future, my dream is to teach children photography,” Nigel says.

After all he has gone through, YMCA St Paul’s Group hopes Nigel succeeds and gets back on track to reach his full potential.