This year has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone but in particular young people. Our Communications and Policy Manager caught up with Vawn following his engagement with Leap’s one-to-one online course to hear how he has been adjusting to the new-normal.

If I were to describe 2020 in a word or summarise it as an emotion, I would use the word ‘woah’. I find myself constantly asking the question is this all really happening? At the start of the pandemic, I felt lost and wasn’t sure about what to do next or where I wanted to go with my life as I was unemployed. My mindset wasn’t always in the best headspace because I kept comparing my life and progress to others on social media, believing I wasn’t reaching my full potential during lockdown. I wasn’t going to university; I wasn’t learning to drive a car and I wasn’t moving out; things all my friends and my age were doing.

After speaking with my Mum, she encouraged me to be more future focused and to use the time to take a step back from social media, friendships and to focus on personal growth; what I wanted to achieve and how I could better myself. I soon found I enjoyed old hobbies like reading, working on my photography and film projects and wanting to better my creative skill and craft.

It is around the same time that I received a phone call from Sherée (one of Leap’s project workers and someone I consider a friend and a mentor). She introduced me to Leap’s new eight-week self-development programme. Straight away, I knew this was right for me and an opportunity I wanted to take as I was turning 20 soon. I knew in myself that I needed to work on personal growth – areas of life I wasn’t really good, like managing my emotions and improving my attitude and mindsets, particularly those that were holding me back and I knew needed changing.

I have known Sherée now for three years and working with her I feel relaxed in myself and in our relationship to discuss upbringing and conflict in my childhood / teenager years that lead me to think negatively about myself or my peers. During lockdown it was great to continue to explore this further, to better understand the emotions behind my anger and work through disagreements with peers as they unfolded. Her approach and the work were so relatable.

I would 100% recommend this work and Leap to my friends and other young people. Leap has had a massive impact on me.

When I first connected with the team, I was reserved, struggled to trust people and didn’t really open to anyone. Over the years the more engaged, the more I have opened up to a lot more people, I have learnt how to be more calm in stressful situations and grasp a lot more opportunities; putting myself out there and step outside my comfort zone a bit more.

Looking ahead, I do not feel so overwhelmed about my future. I have a job and am working at Nottingham NHS. When I am not at work, I am looking for more opportunities to get involved in my community, I am investing into my photography and filming projects; creating new content for my YouTube channel, this is a platform where I can connect and inspire other people. So far, I have been overwhelmed by the current feedback received and it inspires me to keep investing in myself and my craft.

Vawn is 19 years old and lives at home with his family in Nottingham.

In the past two years Vawn has supported the communications team in photographing young people delivery sessions and young ambassadors’ meeting. He has completed Leap’s four-day leadership programme focusing on developing self-leadership skills to be a positive influence when leading himself and his peers.

Spring 2020, Vawn was one of the first cohort of young people to experience and complete Leap’s new online eight-week one-to-one engagement. If you are interested in our work and want to know how we can support the young person you work visit our Young People Training section