Inspiring charity helped transform Jack

NBFP PA1609-4a Leonie Graves, Jack Barber, Kirsty Clark (SASH)
NBFP PA1609-4a Leonie Graves, Jack Barber, Kirsty Clark (SASH)

Jack Barber made the biggest decision of his life and left home at the age of 14 to escape the troubled childhood he had endured with his parents.

In his roller coaster ride of a life, his decision resulted in being placed in foster care in the Brandesburton area.

Jack left home when he was 14

Jack left home when he was 14

“I left my dad drunk in bed when I told him I was leaving and went straight into foster care to make my life better,” said Jack.

“I left because I was so unhappy and at the age of 14 I decided enough was enough.”

Jack did not get a good education and got kicked out of school the day he went into foster care.

After three years, his relationship with his foster family had deteriorated and he was in need of alternative accommodation.

His social worker arranged for him to stay in Nightstop for a few nights in Bridlington and, since then, the 18-year-old has never looked back.

He went to live with Leonie Grave, on Brookland Road, Bridlington, who is a registered host for SASH.

SASH is a nightstop or supported lodgings project aiming to prevent 16-25-year-olds from homelessness.

Jack said: “This is the happiest I have ever been in my whole life.

“Leonie is like a big sister to me.

“She has been there to support me when I have been down and has been a good listener and offers great advice.

“I enjoy living life how I want to now and to my own standards. I don’t have to impress anyone now, like parents, so I enjoy the freedom.”

Jack has lived with Leonie for a year and has joined East Riding College to study Catering, leading him to have big ambitions for the future.

“I am really enjoying my course at college.

“I couldn’t have envisaged going back into education but Leonie has helped me a lot.

“I am now top of the class and would love to move to York in the future to start up my own restaurant.”

With no marriage or children of her own, Leonie decided to sign up to be a SASH host after being in their position in the past.

“I was homeless too and following my experiences, I felt I’d like to help others by offering my spare room,” said the 39-year-old.

“I had Jack initially as emergency accommodation and after a few weeks we really got along and the stay became long term.

“Jack struggled with discipline in terms of seeing things through when I first met him.

“He’d had about seven jobs which could be because he didn’t have a role model to look up to and encourage him.

“He has progressed so well in such little time and I’m proud of him.”

Leonie, who works with children at Hull City Council, has revealed what she thinks it takes to be a host.

“To be a host you have got to be humorous, flexible and non judgemental,” said Leonie. I was really nervous about having a stranger to come live in my house having no knowledge of their background.

“However, after speaking to my friend I realised that the child would be a lot more nervous than me.”

Jack would now encourage anyone who has been in his position to get in touch with SASH because they will ‘never look back’.

“I was in a bad way before they came into my life and now, with their help, I have managed to change my life around for the better,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Kirsty Clark from SASH who secured my placement at Leonie’s because it has been the best thing that’s happened to me.

“Then Leonie as well for being there for me.

“Before I moved to Bridlington I had no prospects or education but now I believe in myself and that’s thanks for the great work of SASH and Leonie.”

Kirsty Clark, SASH East Yorkshire project manager, said: “I’ve worked with Jack as his support worker having at least one session a week which initially focussed on practical issues such as budgeting, time management and advice about employment issues that he faced.

“Since he first came into the placement, not only have Jack’s practical independent living skills improved, he has grown and developed into a mature and motivated young man.

“Jack is keen to pursue a career in the hospitality/entertainment industry and is working hard to ensure that he is following the correct path to do this.

“I have no doubt that Jack will go on to be successful in all aspects of his adult life because of his positive attitude and drive to succeed.”

l For more information on SASH call the team on 01904 652043 or email info@sash-uk.org.uk