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Abbie’s rise to success (YMCA Tayside #CharityStories)
February 1, 2021

Abbie was referred to the YMCA by Youth Services as a young person who has had significant adverse childhood experiences and also suffered from anxiety.

Following usual procedure, YMCA allocated a key worker, Matthew Dellaquaglia, who made contact with Abbie’s mother in order to offer support opportunities.

It was clear Abbie was anxious, as she struggled to speak to Matthew without her mother present. After several attempts of engagement, Abbie made her first step to a brighter future by saying yes to youth work and agreeing to meet with Matthew outside the family home, within her local community.

Although the Corona Virus restrictions made delivering youth work more challenging, we are thankful that the Scottish Government recognised the importance of this work and allowed face to face youth work to continue for the hardest to reach and most at risk young people. It was clear to us, that Abbie met this criteria and so Matthew met with her outside the family home. They went for a walk round the community, with the simple aim of building trust and rapport.

Abbie registered with the YMCA and started meeting with her youth worker weekly in a 1-2-1 setting. She took to the youth work approach well and consistently engaged in her weekly meetings which consisted mainly of walks round North Inch Park, as at that time indoor youth work was not permitted.

Abbie struck Matthew as a bright and able young person, who understandably lacked self-belief. Abbie and Matthew developed an action plan focusing on her self-belief, self-talk and overall employability skills.

Thanks to Abbie’s commitment to her action plan and Scottish Government allowing indoor youth work to resume with precautions in place, Abbie started to show significant positive developments.  She began to believe herself once again.

Abbie was progressing really well, she had started an SCQF Level 4 qualification with the YMCA in Employability skills, as well as agreeing to restart her time volunteering with the Foodbank, which she had given up before starting with the YMCA.

Around this time, Matthew had introduced Abbie to various employment opportunities, as he believed her self-image, self-worth and self-belief had changed so significantly for the better, that she would be ready for employment. It was to Matthew’s delight that Abbie grabbed this opportunity whole heartedly and applied for the Health and Social Care Modern Apprenticeship with Perth & Kinross Council.

Reflecting on this stage of Abbie’s progress, she had recognised in herself the positive steps she had made and appeared truly proud of herself.

During one meeting with Abbie, she had confirmed that her application to PKC was accepted and that she was being progressed through to the interview stage. Understandably Abbie was very happy but also very nervous. YMCA had reacted quickly to this exciting news and agreed with Abbie that they would fast track her Employability Skills course to focus on interview techniques, as she had found herself needing this input sooner than expected.

Abbie spent a day with the YMCA preparing for her interview with Perth & Kinross Council.

During one of the YMCA team meetings, Matthew received a call from Abbie where she excitedly announced her interview was successful and she got the job.

The knock on effect of Abbie’s progress and successful work with the YMCA was shared by her mother who had sent this message:

Hi Matthew, just wanted to say thanks for all your help with Abbie, I’m over the moon for her, she needed this. Thanks again.

As Abbie waits for her start date to become PKC’s latest Health and Social Care Apprentice, she remains involved with the YMCA and continues to go from strength to strength. To date she has achieved her SCQF Level 4 qualification in Employability Skills, successfully gained a HI5 Award and is working towards a Dynamic Youth Award. She also enrolled with Duke of Edinburgh and on top of all that, still finds time to volunteer at our local Foodbank helping others in need.

We are proud of Abbie and all she has achieved. A clear example of your past not defining your future. She truly deserves the success she is experiencing.