Being 17, with complex needs and living in rural England

Rural living conjures up images of rustic charm, fresh air and an idyllic lifestyle. With inspiring views and a strong sense of community, it is easy to see why people swap the pace of the city for something a little slower. With all this space comes a freedom that’s hard to buy.

Unfortunately for some of the young people we work with on #Focus5, countryside living can intensify existing issues. With no car and a reliance on public transport the expanses of the countryside can soon become an isolated place.

This was the case for one young person from a remote village in Somerset. With a population of around 2000 our young person is far away from larger towns such as Taunton and Bridgewater. Living with her mum and therapy pets, our young person has physical and mental health needs. The daily challenges of living with these has been exacerbated by where she lives.

We are really proud of the progress our young person has made. She has shown commitment to working with #Focus5 and whilst this has been challenging, she is now taking control of her life. Her keyworker has helped her to be more organised and to engage more with the wider community. By better understanding her strengths and skills, our young person has managed to push herself, even when life has felt tough. With improved life skills, our young person has a more “can do” approach and is now in the process of gaining Maths and English qualifications. This will lead on to more education and she now has a CV for when she’s ready for work.

The #Focus 5 project provides unique, flexible, one-to-one support to young people aged 15-18 across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset, who may be struggling to move forwards in life. We’re funded to support those who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or at risk of becoming so. Funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund we help young people take steps back into education, employment or training. We encourage development of the '5' key skills identified by employers as being gateways to employment: Communication - Customer Service - Organisation - Problem Solving - Teamwork.

With a new sense of self, we hope our young person from Somerset can start to enjoy the freedoms of living in rural England.