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Kelly’s story

Young Person  

When Kelly* came to YSAS, she was 17 and looking for help. “I was having problems with alcohol,” she remembers, “and using marijuana and ice.” After chatting with a case worker, she decided to enter one of YSAS’s withdrawal units. And though she occasionally found detox “overwhelming”, she says the experience was positive – so positive, in fact, that when Kelly was asked if she wanted to volunteer with YSAS, she jumped at the chance.

Today, Kelly is a dedicated member of the CREW, YSAS’s Youth Advisory Committee. In addition to developing and delivering activities that promote health and well-being, she spends her time talking with young people, so she can ensure YSAS’s services continue to meet their needs. It’s important work, holding the organisation accountable to those it is designed to serve. But the role has helped Kelly as much as it’s helped YSAS clients.

“When I started with the CREW, I was quite nervous,” Kelly says. “I didn’t really speak much, and I wasn’t really participating in the opportunities offered to me.” But slowly, with the support of YSAS, Kelly has become more involved. “Now, every opportunity I’m given, I’m just like, Yep, I’ll do it. I’m much more confident.”

The experience, she says, has been really empowering. “I’ve been in board meetings, sat in on interview panels, attended staff training sessions,” Kelly explains, reeling off a list of experiences she says she would never have imagined doing before she became involved with YSAS.

Her favourite experience, she says, is helping to run Ideas Day, an annual event seeking feedback from young people. “We ask them questions about our services, write down their answers then give recommendations to the board,” Kelly says. “It’s very important, because we need to know what young people want and need.”

Recently, Kelly’s volunteer work slowed down last year. CREW policy requires at least two members to make binding decisions, and Sarah has been CREW’s sole member since March 2022. She’s hopeful this will change in 2023 because more young people have become CREW members recently. She is also making other plans. “I’m a qualified youth worker and educator,” she says, noting how far she’s come since she first came to YSAS for help. “I can actually see myself becoming a youth worker for YSAS. That would be really great.”

*Not their real name.

Kelly

YSAS CREW Member and former client

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