Before joining the YES Project, Sierra had graduated from university, but was feeling lost, unmotivated, and was struggling to find a way forward. Because she’d moved back in with her parents, she was also feeling a sudden loss of independence which added to her anxiety.
“My social anxiety was at an all-time high and I was struggling to ask for help. I wasn’t leaving the house much at all and I found myself sleeping through the days. I wanted to apply for jobs or volunteering opportunities, but I just lacked a lot of confidence.”
After struggling with depression at university, Sierra lost a lot of self-esteem. She felt she was in a rut because she didn’t enjoy the subject she had studied and knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do in the future. Sierra decided that she no longer wanted to feel that way, so began looking for opportunities. Whilst searching for a volunteering role, she came across the Voluntary Action LeicesterShire website, and it was whilst looking on there that she found information about the YES Project.
Sierra soon joined the project in the hopes of building her confidence and learning new skills. It wasn’t long until she was taking part in the Get Creative sessions with Soft Touch Arts; a chance for participants to use a variety of creative mediums to work towards a finished project, careers advice with Bangladeshi Youth & Cultural Shomiti (BYCS) and CV writing with Leicestershire Cares.
“Being on the YES Project helped me establish a routine and allowed me to be comfortable within a social setting. I got better at asking for help when I needed it, and this meant I was finally in a position to start counselling. I got the chance to embrace my creative side too, and I actually found a part-time job which I never thought would be possible.”
As Sierra’s time with YES was coming to an end, one of the last things she accessed was the mentoring provision through Soft Touch Arts. It was during this time that she was also referred for specialist counselling which was organised through Soft Touch Arts.
“Whilst attending the Friday sessions at Soft Touch Arts I was offered one-to-one mentoring. My weekly mentoring sessions gave me the opportunity to look at my goals for the future and practical steps in how to achieve them. I was also able to talk about my feelings and emotions which helped me identify what further support I needed.”
Sierra had a keen eye for detail and had enjoyed the creative work she had done, so with the support of her Keyworker, Faye, she applied for a volunteer role within the marketing and communications department at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire.
With the support of the YES Project, Sierra was able to find the confidence she needed to look for a role, and was successfully offered a part-time job. Looking ahead, Sierra’s next goals are to continue counselling and to learn more coping strategies to manage her anxiety. She would like to try new things whilst continuing with her art too. Another thing she would like to do would be to help others struggling with mental health and anxiety.
“If you’re thinking about joining the YES Project – go for it. There is nothing to lose. It is a fantastic programme with lots of different opportunities. You can meet new people and try new things. You will be supported through your journey and there is something to suit everyone. A year ago, I did not know when I would ever feel confident enough to start work again and I wouldn’t have done it without YES projects support.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the participant and a stock photo has been used.