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'My stay during the refuge came with its own set of challenges and hurdles, and the pandemic didn't made it easier. Staying in one room with my brother and a mother who was pregnant at the time was a challenge on its own. It wasn't easy to find personal time or have any sort of privacy, and the fact that I was going to start a new school in a new area was really overwhelming. I joined my new school around March 2020 but due to covid I was only physically in for about 3 days until we had to go into lockdown. I only just got to meet and socialise with new people at the school allowing me to have some people to talk to and get to know which was a lot better since my previous friends were a journey away. Online school soon started which was quite stressful as I barely got to meet my teachers or classmates beforehand. I struggled with online difficulties and getting hold of a laptop to access course work was hard resulting in a pile up of work over a long time. Eventually this all came to pass as the refuge offered me a tutor who devoted his time to helping me with all my school work and catch up with overdue assignments. He also taught me time management and skills to always keep on top of my work. I really appreciated this as otherwise I’d not be able to catch up and enjoy my education as i should. Summer holidays came which lifted a lot of weight on my shoulders and I got to spend more time with the people in the refuge as the lockdown measures eased.

The refuge was really supportive during and after my stay which mentally and physically put me in a good position to take on year 11 which was my GCSE year. After leaving the refuge and going back to school after summer holidays I returned the school laptop I had borrowed and in return the refuge kindly bought me a laptop which I use to this day to do my school work and research. This was much easier to keep on top of my school work and I really appreciated this. It helped me through the other lockdowns from November to March which mainly consisted of online lessons. I was able to attend all of them and experience a new way of learning. This helped me prepare thoroughly for my GCSE exam which I eventually sat in May 2021.

The refuge and its team supported me in every possible way, providing me with all my needs to have a normal teenage life and not feel like I missed out on anything my agemates experienced.

Eventually it was my GCSE results day and frankly this was the most nervous I had been in a long time. All my efforts and hard work were replaying in my head since morning and I was hoping it was not for granted and tried to have an ounce of faith in myself. My mum was very optimistic and knew that I did well and without a doubt she was right as I opened my results with her and received 7 GCSEs graded 7-5. This achievement was so important to me and it was my wish to go to sixth form and study Biology, Chemistry, and Economics to be able to apply to do medicine in university. This would have been impossible if it wasn't for the support I had around me from my family and the refuge.

I'm now in sixth form studying three A Levels which are going very well so far. I am in the process of applying to be a volunteer at the refuge and give support in any area available. This wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the support I had around me from my family and the refuge.'

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