Case study: Agnes

Agnes came to England from Africa at the age of 15. She left a young son behind, having given birth at the age of 13. When Agnes arrived she did not speak English and struggled to understand British culture. At first she lived with family, but their relationship was difficult and Agnes ended up in social housing. As a young person on her own, without a support network around her, and lacking the tools to study or work, Agnes was lonely and frustrated.


A turning point came when she stumbled across Merseyside Youth Association (MYA).
The youth group operates an open door policy and Agnes was encouraged to come in
and speak to a youth worker. She was introduced to Ashely who agreed to help guide
her through the process to get a job. Ashley quickly identified that Agnes faced “long, entrenched barriers to employment that would need addressing and would take some
time to remove”.


MYA introduced Agnes to wider support services, including counselling, and worked with her to develop an action plan to help her to regain a sense of hope that she would get a job and, ultimately, gain a visa to bring her son to the UK to join her. Through MYA Agnes has received skills training and mentoring, made new friends, improved her English, and gone on to became a peer mentor for other young people taking English as a foreign language.


The ongoing support of her local youth organisation gave Agnes the tools she needed to move forward towards her dreams. She has now completed her college course and found full-time work in the retail sector. MYA continue to support her in her battle to be reunited with her son.


“Agnes is living proof that when you have an aim, a goal and motivation, miracles really can happen and you can turn your life around.” Ashley, Youth Mentor


Last November Agnes received the ‘Youth of the Year – England’ award from HRH The Princess Royal, at a special UK Youth ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The award recognises Agnes’ exceptional achievements in overcoming adversity.

© Art for Youth London 2020

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