Karen’s first encounter with LYP was when she was offered one-to-one support within her secondary school. While benefiting from the one to one support, Karen also joined the Girls Group which involved weekends away, trips and activity evenings. The girls would meet regularly to take part in new experiences and challenges that involved working as a team and encouraging one another. Karen also began to attend BFree youth café regularly after school, which gave her somewhere safe to hang out with friends. As someone who had often lacked confidence, One to One support, BFree and Girls Group gave Karen the opportunity to meet others, make friendships and build her self-esteem.

Through her teenage years Karen’s confidence began to grow and she started to attend youth residentials ran by LYP. These saw her facing her fear of heights, performing in front of peers and becoming a role model to those younger than her. Karen’s commitment and amazing work ethic eventually helped her become a wonderful volunteer and she went on to help with many LYP projects. In 2014, Karen volunteered as a leader for our LYP Romania Trip, running a summer camp for local Romanian children.

Since turning 18, Karen has gone from being a somewhat insecure, under-confident teenager struggling with mental health, to a strong, secure and courageous woman. She’s now 28, working as an activity centre manager for adults with learning difficulties across Surrey, and is also a mental health first aider for her colleagues. Karen’s says that it is through her experiences with LYP that she now has a passion for supporting others.