Sam's story*

 
Following attendance at one of our summer sports days, Sam was referred to Sova. Despite being a polite and very talented young man, with a natural sporting ability, he lacked confidence and self-belief, and was constantly seeking reassurance that he was doing okay. Sova assessed Sam and matched him with a mentor, Jamie.
 
Fast-forward a year, the Youth Offending Service (YOS) still considered Sam to be a vulnerable young adult, and his YOS Case Manager was keen for him to keep working with us and take on new responsibilities. Sam had attended our fishing course previously and had done brilliantly – on this basis Sova asked Sam to be part of the support team, spending time talking to and helping other clients, serving refreshments, taking photos and liaising with staff and volunteers.
 
Sam has come a long way since he first came to Sova. His attendance at school has improved which has opened up his options for training, further education or employment opportunitites and left him feeling confident enough to make decisions about his future. He says he is a lot more content with his life, feels settled at home and school and finds it easier to smile.
 
Sam attends a sports club each week, as well as fishing, and recently attended both a gardening and digital media and IT workshop. Sam is consistently pleasant and polite, with people often commenting on what a nice young man he is – he has made a big impression on all of us and is very well liked. His calm and relaxed attitude makes him a pleasure to be with, and as his confidence has grown, he no longer seeks others’ approval and sees himself in a more positive light.
 
Sam talks a lot more openly about his interests. He loves football and has been to watch a couple of matches with his mentor Jamie. Sam’s Case Manager asked him if he had someone he could talk to when he was experiencing a difficult time. Without hesitation, he said that his Sova volunteer, Jamie, would be the first person he would turn to should he need to – whilst he had no trouble making friends in the past, he’d chosen to befriend those with troubled pasts who may not have been the best influence on him. The Sova environment has provided Sam with the right network for him to meet positive people and build up trust with staff, volunteers and other young people, which in turn has allowed him to make giant steps forward.
 
* Identities have been changed throughout.