Our Way Leeds: From sofa surfing teen to university student

DANNY came to Our Way Leeds (OWL) emergency accommodation during the Covid Pandemic. Aged 16, they had been sofa surfing since being told to leave the family home after an argument.

Danny had long experienced a very turbulent home life. They had been under the care of social services and child protection from birth. Their mother was subjected to domestic violence and her partner had also assaulted Danny.

After assessment Danny moved into one to the self-contained flats within the OWL emergency scheme. They had never lived independently before and here they were able to develop their life skills, learning to shop, cook, clean and look after themselves.

With the help of their social worker and support workers at OWL they registered for medical care, opened a bank account, applied for and managed their benefits and obtained a passport and provisional driving licence.

Already a student at Leeds City College, Danny continued attending regularly. They took part in group activities at OWL, became a volunteer at a youth club near to their former home and over time has developed a healthy relationship with their mother.

Growing and flourishing within themselves as their own person and comfortable with their identity, Danny began exploring online dating. They met and began a relationship with a student in York and split their time between their boyfriend’s shared student accommodation and their flat at OWL.

This gave Danny a taste of university life – somewhere they’d always dreamed of going. They applied to York St John’s University and received a conditional offer to study history. After successfully completing their course at Leeds City College and achieving the necessary grade, Danny was accepted into York St John’s. They began their studies there in September ’23, moving into university hall of residence accommodation.

The team at OWL emergency remained in contact with Danny for the first month, checking in regularly to ensure a smooth transition.

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