Abingdon Foyer helped make my life better, says Natasha

When 19-year-old Natasha Greenway moved into Abingdon Foyer as a troubled teenager she was struggling to find a direction in life. She could not have believed that two and a half years on she would be planning to move into her own flat.

Before moving into the Foyer in The Square, Natasha lived with her mum in the Abingdon area where she was getting into trouble.

“It was bad. I was always getting into dodgy situations and was often involved with dangerous people,” Natasha explains. “This wasn’t good for me or my mum so the social services suggested that I apply to move into Abingdon Foyer.”

Abingdon Foyer, which is operated by social housing provider Stonewater, provides young and vulnerable 16-25 year-olds like Natasha with a safe place to live. It also provides residents with special training, support and education facilities which are all geared to helping them find a job. Abingdon Foyer manager Gill Wilsker explains: “Each new resident who comes to the Foyer is given a personalised development plan specifically tailored to meet their needs, with the aim of helping them to achieve independence.”

The majority of Foyers like Abingdon require a referral from the local housing authority. Prospective residents also need to have a local connection, either they’ve been living in the area for more than six months or have a locally-based family member.

“During my interview with the Foyer staff I was asked lots of questions about the support I thought I needed,” Natasha says. “My development plan was specifically geared around keeping me away from certain types of people who could be a danger to me or cause me to get into harmful situations. It was also designed to lead me in the direction of getting a job and living independently.”

Job success

With the encouragement of the Foyer staff, Natasha attended job fairs and received training on good interview techniques. She now has a job working as a replenishment assistant at B&M bargain stores and feels that she has completely turned her life around.

“The training was really helpful and I would say it has definitely helped me to get my job. I’ve been working for three months now and feel that my confidence has massively increased”, Natasha explains. “When I first moved into the Foyer I was always in trouble and getting hurt, but now I feel that things have changed for the better. With the Foyer’s help I have managed to get my first ever job and I feel I have grown up a lot in the last two and a half years.”

Natasha believes that being surrounded by the support and encouragement of people who genuinely care goes a long way towards achieving the ultimate goal of independence.

“I’ve been so lucky to have such a genuinely caring team of staff supporting me at Abingdon Foyer, I wouldn’t change a single one of them! They have helped me to build my self-esteem, keep on the right track and make new friends who truly understand what I’m going through.”
Abingdon Foyer is a three-building, 21-bed housing project featuring 13 self-contained single rooms and seven flats with a communal lounge and internet café. Natasha currently shares a two-bedroom flat with one other person.

“The flat I live in isn’t huge but it is cosy. My flatmate and I share a kitchen and we each have our own bedroom and bathroom which is nice when you need your own space. There is a communal area for everyone to sit in which was great for meeting people when I first moved in, but now I find that I’m so busy working that I barely have time to use it these days!”

Now that she has a stable job, Natasha is planning to set the wheels in motion to move into a flat of her own in January or February next year. “We are incredibly proud of Natasha, she’s come such a long way”, says Gill Wilsker. “She was very young when she moved into the Foyer and has matured and developed a great deal. She is now able to look after herself safely which she wasn’t able to do before and it’s been great to see her developing the skills she needs to go on to live securely in the community.”

Based on all she has managed to achieve during her time at the Foyer, Natasha would highly recommend to anyone living in a vulnerable state to consider turning to a Foyer.

“I can hardly believe what I have accomplished since moving into Abingdon Foyer,” Natasha says. “Anyone who finds themselves constantly being dragged into unsafe or dangerous situations should definitely consider living in a Foyer as a serious option. The support of the staff and the programmes that they set out for me have really helped to make my life better and as a result I’m now on the road to living a truly independent lifestyle.”