Just Giving
Young Peoples Support Foundation



52 Oldham Street


M4 1LE

Tel: 0161 228 7654

Fax: 0161 236 5081


YPSF (Signpost)

St Andrew's Hall, Brownley Rd



M22 0DW

Tel: 0161 436 5432

Fax: 0161 437 1055


16/17 referral duty line

07961 586 822

9am to 5pm

Monday to Friday


"Without the help of YPSF, things would be very, very different" - Maria's Story


When 19 year old Maria came to the UK, it was as a bewildered 16 year old brought to Manchester by her uncle in search of a better life. With her parents, sister and brothers displaced in a war-torn country, Maria was relying on her uncle to support her and provide her with a stable home.

But, once in Manchester, her uncle left Maria with a stranger and disappeared. The strange man told a frightened Maria that he couldn’t look after her, and took her to Social Services.

“Social Services asked me lots of questions about how I got here, who had brought me, why my uncle had left,” explains Maria. “I was very worried about what was going to happen to me because I couldn’t speak English and I didn’t know anyone at all apart from the gentleman who told me I couldn’t stay.

“They asked me so many questions and spoke about so many things and it was difficult to take it all in. They couldn’t find a foster carer for me so instead they took me to a shared house where there were other girls living. Because I didn’t speak the language and I was alone I started crying. I knew I was very lucky because in my country there were lots of times when I didn’t have anything to eat, and here I had somewhere to sleep, food to eat and clothes to wear. But I was sad because I missed my brothers and sister and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Eventually, Maria was moved to a hostel with another girl who spoke her language and she began to settle into her new routine, learning to speak English and adjusting to life in a new country. But no sooner had she started to settle, Maria was uprooted again. Because she had turned 18, she was no longer entitled to the help of Social Services and was asked to leave the hostel.

“The hostel I was staying in was only for girls who are 16 or 17, so when I was 18 I needed somewhere else to go. That’s when my social worker told me about YPSF.

“First of all, a support worker at YPSF arranged to pay the landlord at the hostel so I could stay there while they helped me to find somewhere else,” explains Maria. “Then they helped me to fill in lots of applications forms for hostels and housing, and then when they found me a hostel they even helped me to pack and move all my things.”

Having secured a place in a hostel for adults, Maria was introduced to her own support worker, Claire Barnes.

“The first thing Claire told me about was a course that YPSF ran which would help me to manage my own tenancy,” says Maria. “It taught me how to manage and pay my bills, how to find furniture, the best place to apply for a home, things like that. I wanted to live in Withington which is where my hostel was, but Claire explained that I would have to wait a long time to have my own home in Withington, and told me the areas that would be much easier to get into.”

Within weeks, Maria was given a flat in Manchester city centre. But she soon ran into trouble, with things being stolen from her flat and, terrifyingly, two men breaking into her home and threatening extreme violence against her. Maria's screams alerted neighbours who called police before she was harmed physically, but the whole episode left her traumatised.

“The only person I could think of who could help me was Claire,” says Maria. “I was scared and crying and didn’t know what else to do.”

Claire swiftly arranged for action to be taken and, after once again helping Maria to pack up her things and making sure she was safely staying with a friend, they got together to discuss Luisa’s options and find her a safe, permanent place to live.

“Claire had already helped me to apply to the housing department for a different home when my things started going missing from my flat,” says Luisa. But, with the situation more urgent following the traumatic experience Maria had been through, Claire spoke to the council’s housing department to expedite arrangements for Maria to be given a new property.

“Within two weeks I had been offered a lovely flat in Newton Heath,” says Maria. “Claire took me to see it, and it was so much better than the last – it was very safe, with a security guard on reception all day and all night who would call me when visitors came and ask if I wanted to let them in. I knew no-one could get into my home if I didn’t want them to.”

Maria accepted the flat, and again Claire was there to provide practical support to help her settle in.

Claire helped me with so many things,” says Maria. “Bills from housing, TV licence, everything. She called the electric company, water... If I received a letter from the council she would call them and talk to them. I can’t even think what I would have done without her!”

Thanks to Claire’s guidance, Maria now has the confidence to deal with every aspect of her own tenancy. “Because I’ve seen Claire do so many things, I know what to do myself,” she explains. “I know that if I speak to someone on the phone I need to write down their name and keep a note of what’s been agreed, and that has helped me to sort out so many problems.”

As well as having the confidence to manage her own tenancy, the support Maria has received from YPSF has helped her in her education.

“I’m doing an NVQ in Travel and Tourism, and I’m in my third year,” she explains. “Having my own flat has made it so much easier for me to study because it’s quiet and I have my own space to be able to concentrate on my work. In a hostel it’s so noisy and there are so many people, and I have to be really careful about leaving things lying around because people can get cross if they think I’m taking up space or being messy. Having my own flat means I can spread my books out and work in peace without worrying about making people upset.

“Without the help of YPSF, things would be very, very different for me. I definitely wouldn’t have my own home and I would be struggling with basic things I can now do easily, thanks to Claire.”

Settled in a safe, permanent home, Maria is able to finally able to make plans for her future.

“I’d love to work in the travel industry – be an air hostess and travel all around the world. I want to learn how to speak French, because I’m now fluent in English, and I’ve also learned how to speak Spanish while I’ve been living in England.”

As well as making plans for her future, Maria has been able to look into her past. She has been in touch with the British Red Cross, whose staff have helped her to trace her family, and she’s looking forward to meeting them again in the future.

“I would recommend YPSF to 1000 people!” smiles Maria. “Without YPSF and Claire my life would be so different. I feel very, lucky and am so happy to have the life I do.”


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