2016 WeMindTheGap graduate Sophie tells her story

26th July 2017

My story: I am a survivor

I’m a survivor of a chaotic home, a family who didn’t know how to show love, a house that wasn’t safe. I survived because one day I knew I couldn’t stay there anymore and fled. I was still living in the Women’s Aid Refuge when I heard about the Moneypenny Foundation traineeship. It sounded great, an amazing opportunity but I didn’t think they would want me. Why would they?

But I went along to Discovery Day, really confident and outgoing, but actually hiding my fears, that I’d been sick that morning with nerves, pretending I was the best and could do everything when inside I was screaming “I can’t”. I was so happy when they phoned and said I’d been picked. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt so happy.

Launchpad and Outward Bound weeks were really hard and tested everyone’s comfort zones. The team tried to show that I needed to be more positive, have an open mind to new stuff. My head was all over the place. I hit out. I cried. I probably wasn’t very nice. But still they supported me, helped me move out of the refuge into my own home, spent time with me, played cards with me, encouraged me to eat – just a little bit – and took me to my GP appointments so I didn’t run out of pills. Slowly I began to trust them all.

My coach, Ros, helped me grow in confidence and become more open minded, be more self-aware. Coaching was not easy…but she wouldn’t let me give up. I seemed to do really well in my work placements and I loved making new friends in the group and at placements. But it was hard – why should I deserve all this praise and good stuff that was coming my way? I wasn’t worth that. Slowly, with lots of tears, lots of coaching, and the amazing Paula who mentored me I started to believe I was worth it.

I learnt not to give up. I learnt to take help and I have learnt that there are people who care. Most importantly, I’ve learnt that things don’t change overnight.

My last placement was amazing, it was physical work in a warehouse but they all wanted me to do so well. That gave me the confidence to apply to PGL as a trainee instructor. I wanted to do something physical like Outward Bound and I wanted to give back – to help young people who like me had got a bit a lost. When I told Laura, our Big Sister, I had the job she just jumped up and down and screamed. Everyone was so pleased for me, so proud of me. It was a bit shocking because I actually felt proud of myself.

I was asked by to give a presentation at Graduation to all our guests about my journey. I was so scared but said yes, immediately. I told our audience of all the experiences and skills I had over the six months and the things I learned. I told them if I could turn back time I would have an open mind always!! I would be less judgemental and I would “go for it” – and not make excuses because I was scared to fail. I told them that now I don’t look back, I keep looking forward.

If I could do another round of the traineeship, there is so much I would do differently. I think by me even saying that sentence it shows how much I’ve changed due to becoming more aware. Thinking back its just “wow” – I did all that and look at me now!

In March 2017 Sophie passed her induction at PGL with flying colours and is now instructing on site helping young people overcome their fears on a day to day basis.

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