When James came to Creative Youth Network he had been excluded from school, he was living with his nan as both of his parents, struggling with drug addictions, were deemed unfit to take care of him, the physical and mental impacts of living with Cystic Fibrosis was taking its toll on him and he’d recently been in hospital following a cycle of self-harm. Over time James started acting out in anger, responding to situations he couldn’t control or understand with frustration and isolation.  

“Family life has been difficult the past few years, both of my parents have drug addictions, so I live with my nan. One of my siblings is in care, so I don’t get to see her a lot, I find this hard to talk about because I've been in care before too and I don’t like that my sister is now. I also have Cystic Fibrosis and sometimes I find the amount of medication and treatments I have to take overwhelming, recently this has affected my mental health a lot.  

I get so angry and frustrated by all these situations that I can’t control, so I lash out. I’ve been in hospital before for self-harming and I was recently expelled from school for bad behaviour. This is why I was put in contact with a youth worker at Creative Youth Network, Asden.  

When Covid-19 started I was told I had to shield due to my Cystic Fibrosis, this was a really lonely time for me but Asden made it a bit easier, we’d chat or play games over the phone. Eventually I felt a bit more comfortable talking to him about more serious stuff, usually I don’t like opening up to new people which is why I’d felt uncomfortable about attending wellbeing sessions in the past. But Asden really listened, it felt like he was there as a friend as well as a youth worker.  

When things got worse with my family I was worried I would be homeless, but Asden helped me find housing support and eventually helped me talk things through so I could stay at home. The biggest change came when Asden helped me find work experience at a local bike project. I fixed up two bikes, one to sell and one to keep for myself. It was so nice to feel good at something I enjoyed, I felt useful there and it helped me realise what I want to do in life, which is something I was worried about.  

I was hospitalised not long after this because of my Cystic Fibrosis, Asden kept in touch with me while I was in hospital which really helped, but this also gave me a lot of time to think. I decided I wanted to go back to school and finish all of my subjects. Asden arranged with hospital education for me to have a full curriculum while I was in there and spoke to my school about me going back. I finally accepted well-being and mental health support, I'm still nervous about opening up to people but I've seen how it can help me with Asden. I’ve also been offered a place at college to study Car Mechanics, which I start in September, the future is finally starting to look a lot more promising.” 

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