Andy’s Story

Kate, a worker for our Portsmouth Circle of Support service, met Andy at a drop in she was running at the Lighthouse, a soup kitchen for people who are in financial hardship.

Andy been struggling with mental ill health since childhood, his self confidence was very low. He would walk with his head down, had no mental health support worker and felt he had no network of support to turn to.

He had a history of substance misuse, but had been clean for the past 6 months. During his meeting with Kate he said he did not want to relapse, he wanted to get out of debt, learn to budget effectively and ultimately be confident enough to look for volunteering opportunities. He was due a medical assessment with regards to his benefits and would like support in attending this. Andy’s low confidence meant he struggled speaking with people, especially those in authority. He agreed to be supported by Circle of Support, hoping to build on his confidence and begin afresh.

Over the next few months Andy received support with managing his debts. All his companies were contacted to request his accounts be put on hold while a financial statement could be completed, which they agreed to. This allowed him time to organise his finances and begin some work on budgeting.

Andy’s GP arranged for him to be referred to Talking Change for support sessions for his mental health. Andy was anxious about this, due to his fear of having to talk about his past. He did not feel comfortable talking to a stranger, but was assured that he would be getting the right support from someone specially trained in Mental Health issues. To ease him in, Andy’s support worker attended the first appointment with him, waiting in the waiting area. The mental health worker put Andy at ease, helping him realise she was there to help him. He felt so reassured by her that he was happy to attend all other appointments on his own. He successfully completed a 12 week therapy session which enabled him to put coping mechanisms in place to aid in his recovery.

Initially Andy had wanted support in attending his medical assessment for his benefit claim, but after a few support sessions felt strong enough to attend alone. The assessment was failed meaning he needed to sign on to JSA which he did completely independently. He was supported to attend the first meeting with his coach, with every other session after attended without support. There was a pause in money being received, during which Andy contacted all utility companies etc to explain the situation with them agreeing to put accounts on hold for a month.

After a few months the change in Andy’s confidence levels was amazing. He went out and bought a suit with money he’d saved to wear to meetings, holding his head high and feeling like he was worth the investment. Andy had been involved in a long-term dispute with one of his neighbours who had been repeatedly asking Andy to buy him alcohol. As a recovering alcoholic this was very difficult for Andy, his low confidence levels meaning he found it hard to say no. Since beginning his support with Circle of Support Andy’s confidence has soared meaning he felt able to, alongside his support worker, meet with his neighbour to resolve this issue. He has started attending church again, and through that met a woman who is disabled and no longer able to maintain her garden. He offered to do her garden for her, she asked what she could do in exchange and as he has no washing machine she offered to do his washing. Andy has great plans for the flowers and borders.

Andy now has not one but five suits. His confidence levels are at an all time high. He is receiving the support he needs for his mental health and feels in a better position to deal with his debt and benefit. In his personal life he has rekindled a relationship with a woman he met a year ago – and they’re getting married.

*name has been changed

Gimme Shelter take 2!

Gimme Shelter Festival Fundraiser is back!

Last December’s event was so popular the team have decided to run a summer edition, again in support of YOU’s Dorset Social Inclusion Service.

The service supports vulnerably housed people into their own accommodation, helping them secure rent deposits, get back on their feet and regain independence.

Martin Saint, one of the three organisers, says of this year’s event: ‘we have outdone ourselves securing bands this time, as we have Dorset’s biggest dub-reggae band headlining in the absolutely fantastic Cuba Libre. We also have the West Country’s answer to the White Stripes, Jawbone, in the house; if you like your rock ‘n’ roll, this is not to be missed.’

Tickets for the event will be available for purchase on the door at a bargain price of £3, and there is also a Total Giving page set up for people who wish to give a little extra to this fantastic cause.



Advice Portsmouth: Southampton Legal Walk

A huge thankyou to everyone who donated to the Legal Walk event! The team raised an amazing £875! We’re keeping the Total Giving page open for anyone who still wishes to donate, we have a little way to go before we reach our target for the year so please do continue to share our page.

A team from our Advice Portsmouth service took part in the Southampton Legal Walk organised by the South West Legal Support trust on 8th May.

Advice Portsmouth is a pioneering service situated in the North End of Portsmouth delivering free and independent advice regarding debt, employment, welfare benefits, housing, consumer and general advice regarding family issues. The service is funded by Portsmouth City Council but every year needs to raise an additional £25k to maintain the work of its amazing advisors. £12,500 of the target has been raised so far, and the team are taking part in the sponsored walk to try and raise an additional £5k to bring them closer to the annual target.

It’s not too late to sponsor the team for this event! If you want to support the service you can do so via their Total Giving page here:

To find out about future sponsored walks organised by The YOU Trust or for more information on how you can run your own event, feel free to contact our team in head office via


Calling all Movers and Shakers! Festival Fundraiser returns

Exciting news today that a festival fundraiser which raised over £1k for our Dorset Social Inclusion Service is set to return for an early summer event.

‘Gimme Shelter’ is an event organised by YOU’s very own Martin Saint. Martin works in Dorset as an Accommodation Finder for the service, known as Your Journey. All proceeds from this fabulous festival will go towards the work of the service.

The Dorset Social Inclusion Service provides a co-ordinated, comprehensive and flexible package of support for people who are of no fixed abode, sofa surfing or in temporary accommodation, and for rough sleepers. This includes working with partners to identify and make contact with people sleeping out as well as with those who have substance misuse issues, mental health issues and/or a history of offending. Each client, no matter what their circumstances or where they live, is matched with a named Community Navigator who works in equal partnership with them, recognising their skills and strengths, planning how their outcomes are to be met.

The festival was extremely well received last time round, and Martin is confident the bands he’s secured for this year’s line up will guarantee another great event. Of the line up he says ‘we have outdone ourselves securing bands this time as we have Dorset’s biggest dub-reggae band headline in the absolutely fantastic Cuba Libre. We also have the West Country’s answer to the White Strips, Jawbone, in the house; if you like your rock ‘n’ roll, this is not t be missed’.

The festival is also looking to showcase bands from local schools during the afternoon slot. It’s set to be a great community event with hopes of raising even more money for the valuable service.

‘Everybody of any age is welcome and as ever, all donations for food and clothes are welcome,’ Martin says, ‘ all funds will be going to the Dorset Social Inclusion Service to help clients with difficulties with their housing’.

Tickets will be available on the door at a bargain of £3 each.




National Stalking Awareness Week

This week 24th – 28th April is National Stalking Awareness Week. According to a 2006 survey (British Crime Survey) at least 5 million people are stalked each year, but this is likely to be a much higher figure as only 1% of stalking cases are recorded by police (National Stalking Consortium, 2016).

National Stalking Advocacy Service, Paladin, discovered during its 2016 service evaluation that 70% of its clients were female, and 68% of cases were related to domestic violence. You First is the YOU Domestic Violence and Abuse service supporting people daily who are experiencing the realities of stalking. Following on from partnership work with the Police and Crime Commissioner in Dorset, You First are pleased to announce they were successful in the application for a share in the Tampon Tax. They have received funding to further develop and deliver an innovative and specialist service for those experiencing stalking.

The service will be targeted specifically at people who are either engaged with, or experiencing stalking across all different types of stalking and involves working in close partnership with the police, probation, health and other specialist support.

Paladin are hosting a national stalking conference in June. YOU’s Head of Domestic Violence and Abuse, and Manager of Dorset You First will both be attending in order to help form best practice at the new clinic. Statistics from crime surveys reveal that most people don’t report stalking incidents to the police and are not sure how to get help. We’re excited to be part of the wider conversation providing solutions to this crime affecting so many peoples’ lives in secret.

Follow National Stalking Awareness Week on social media through the hashtag #StalkingMatters or #NSWA17

What is Stalking?

Defined by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust:

‘It is hard to give an exact definition of stalking because stalkers will often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Stalking can consist of any type of behaviour such as regularly sending flowers or gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication, damaging property and physical or sexual assault. If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted, causing you fear, distress or anxiety then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.’ 

New Refuge – Furnishing Fund

In a time where we hear about the negative impact of austerity cuts on refuges throughout the country, You First have positive and exciting news for Dorset and the national network of refuge provision!

You First have secured alternative and larger refuge accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence and abuse. We’re thrilled to be able to offer a much needed safe space, but now we need your help…

The circumstances under which the women come to us often mean they arrive with minimal clothing and provisions. We aim to provide a fully functioning living space, and currently need new white goods to kit out the kitchen. Can you spare a few pounds to make this a reality?

Any support through donations and/or sharing the link to our fundraising page would be appreciated not only by You First but by the women and children living at the refuge.

Sex and Relationships Education to be Mandatory in All England Schools

The government has announced that Sex and Relationships Education is to be made mandatory teaching in all England schools from the age of 4. Until now it was only compulsory for SRE to be taught in council-run schools. Education secretary Justine Greening in an interview with the BBC said:

“At the moment, many schools teach sex and relationships education. But it’s not mandatory, and, therefore, for many children, they are not coming out of our schools really being equipped to deal with the modern world or indeed be safe and protected from some of the very modern challenges that young people face on cyberbullying and sexting.

“What we’re introducing today is mandatory relationships and sex education in all secondary schools, but also mandatory relationships education in primary schools as well.

“And, of course, all of this, it’s important, is age-appropriate and, of course, it’s also important to retain, for sex education, a parent’s right to withdraw their child.”

Our You First domestic abuse services have long been working alongside many other voluntary and charitable organisations across the country, delivering healthy relationships training to children in schools and within our refuges. We’re committed to continue this important work and are thrilled the government has recognised its importance.

“It’s really great that the government has made the decision to make such teaching mandatory, and from an early age – we see stories all the time in the news about children who have been groomed, molested and led to believe by the perpetrator that the relationship they have is ‘normal’ and they don’t always have any way to know otherwise,” says Tonia Redvers, YOU’s head of Domestic Abuse services.

“Learning about healthy relationships from a young age is positive for building communities free from domestic abuse and violence. By making this education in schools mandatory all children are given an equal opportunity to learn how to engage with each other in a positive, respectful way as they grow”.


You First Hampshire delivering a session on healthy relationships with children last year, as part of the ‘Think Safe’ initiative.


‘March’ing forwards for Women

With International Women’s Day falling on the 8th of March and Mother’s Day on the 26th, YOU has decided to make March all about women and we’d love for YOU to be involved.


This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Be Bold for Change’, a message true to our hearts as an organisation. On average 2 women every week in England and Wales are killed  by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015). Our domestic abuse support services in Hampshire and Dorset support and empower women into safer, independent lives free from fear and violence.  We believe that it is everyone’s responsibility, be they male, female, young or old, to help build a safer and more inclusive world. We’ll be taking part in pledging to be Bold for Change as part of the International Women’s Day campaign and asking people ‘what does being bold mean to you?’

Yesterday our Chair and Trustees kicked things off by pledging their support. The best thing about this campaign is we can all be involved! Visit the website, spread the word and pledge your boldness.


We’re currently in the process of opening a new refuge provision in Dorset (read more about it here). We’re thrilled to be opening new support for women in a time when refuges all over the country are under threat from funding cuts.  We’ve got the rooms and the roof, but we need some help in getting the place ready for living in. Can you spare some pounds to help us buy essentials like white goods for the kitchen? Check out our Total Giving page here:


The YOU Trust Response to DCLG & DWP Consultation – Funding for Supported Housing

YOU is concerned that the current Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap and ‘top-up’ proposal has been created in the absence of any impact assessment and is not credible.  We are clear that the status quo is not acceptable to Government.    However, this approach is a backwards step that will stifle development and will put existing accommodation and services at unnecessary risk.  Fellow providers and trade bodies share our concerns. We believe it will undermine years of positive delivery, and will make the current situation worse.

Our full response documents can be found below.

DCLG DWP Consultation Funding for Supported Housing – Response
The YOU Trust
 WP Com CLG Com inquiry on supported housing – Response The YOU Trust

Ofsted Praise for You First Hampshire

A recent report from Ofsted has highlighted You First Hampshire’s  Family Intervention Team project as being excellent practice, with praise for the Domestic Abuse and Violence workers being particularly effective and engaged.

The Joint Targeted Area inspection looked at all domestic abuse services within the area of Hampshire, focussing on children living with domestic violence. An article following the report  in ‘Children and Young People Now’ cites:

“”Inspectors were particularly impressed that senior managers were able to co-ordinate an effective response to domestic violence across the county’s large geographic area, stating that “it is evident that leaders in all organisations are committed to the partnership and that they appropriately prioritise the protection of these children”.
The placing of specialist domestic abuse workers in the county’s family intervention team, which targets vulnerable families, was also noted by inspectors as being “an impressive and creative service that generated its own evidence of effectiveness and impact”. ”

Excellent partnership working between the  statutory and voluntary sectors is absolutely crucial to ensure vulnerable adults and children receive the support they need. We’re so proud to be involved in the delivery of such important and outstanding work.

For the full article and links to the letter to Hampshire County Council’s director of children’s services, click here.