“Hi I’m Leah and I’m The Door’s Community Youthworker for Stroud.
Back when I’d just started in the 6th form at school, my friend, Bev, kept trying to get me to go to The Door. I was really reluctant, I’d heard it was run by Christians and it was the place where all the troubled kids went. I needed a lot of convincing
but she kept on at me so in the end I went along.I still remember the first time I turned up – the youthworkers just
made me feel so welcome, they spoke to me but didn’t’ judge me. I played my first ever game of UNO!
It just felt like I belonged.
Instantly I started coming along every day after school – I’d walk into town, stay at The Door and then get my dad to pick me up from here. It was really fun and chilled out. I often felt unwanted and judged.
The Door was the one place I didn’t feel in the shadow of what I was supposed to be but I could just be who I wanted to be
As I was one of the older ones, and I was around the place all the time, the youthworkers got me helping out – in the tuck shop and at the awards night. It felt like I was part of The Door and I wanted to carry on being a part of it.
Victoria organised for me to do my EPQ for school at The Door using my photography – she took me round all the other centres to take photos and I put together a presentation. I felt so unwanted at school so I’d just come to The Door during free periods to work on that and do my homework – the office was becoming my home now.
They showed my presentation at the awards night, which made me really proud. I was taking the photos of all the winners, and it came to the Young Person of The Year award…. …I heard my name and I thought I’d missed a photo opportunity or something – then I realised I’d won it! I couldn’t believe it. I’d only been coming to The Door for about a year and this had happened.
I really wanted to become a youthworker, and The Door let me do my placement here while I was training, after a few months they offered me a sessional youthworker job. It felt like the biggest achievement –
I’d wanted it so long, the waiting seemed worth it.
Earlier this year I applied to be the Community Youthworker for Stroud, I was really nervous but I got the job. It means I now get to run the Stroud Youth Centre. If you’d have told me five years ago at my first session that this would be mine I’d have thought you were crazy!
I try to make the centre feel for others just like it felt for me on that first day: Somewhere safe, where young people can feel free to talk and not be judged. I want to help them to be genuine and not have to be someone else. Its just about building our little family every day.”
Donate today to support Leah and help her achieve her vision for our Stroud Youth Centre – make a one off or regular donation from as little at £3 at thedoor.org.uk/donate