Dawn came to Xtrax when she was just 16. She and her brother had been in care for most of their lives, experiencing abuse and assault during that time.
They understandably didn't trust many people and Dawn was quiet, withdrawn and felt depressed.
Dawn was worried about the risk of losing her home: she didn't feel she had the skills to look after her home and she was not able to cook properly as she had never been taught the skills.
With the support of Xtrax staff and volunteers, Dawn slowly built trust and relationships with the staff at the centre. She began to open up and started feeling safe, meeting other young people in the same position as her.
"They understandably didn't trust many people and Dawn was quiet, withdrawn and felt depressed."
Over the years of coming to Xtrax, Dawn was now in stable, suitable accommodation and, for the first time in her life, she trusted adults around her. This trust enabled her to really talk and be listened to about her shocking childhood, and she was then able to look forward to a positive adult life.
Aaron found Xtrax one day and told us that he was homeless and escaping violence in Essex. He was cold, alone and had been sleeping in bushes near a caravan site for over three weeks.
Aaron's life was chaotic, he was missing appointments and finding himself in dangerous positions, battling with a sad, neglected past. He had been in care from a very young age and had mental health issues.
"Aaron's life was chaotic, he was missing appointments and finding himself in dangerous positions, battling with a sad, neglected past"
It was the relaxed, supportive atmosphere that Xtrax offers that meant Aaron could have a shower, wash his clothes and just chill for a while. He was able to slowly address his housing and his complex mental health needs as well.
Staff helped Aaron to look for a place to stay, secure a deposit and find furniture - but the support didn't stop once his housing was arranged. Aaron attended group work and one-to-one sessions with Xtrax staff, as well as enjoying being part of a warm and welcoming young person's community.
Aaron now has a roof over his head but also has time to continue addressing his past and looking forward to his future. This is something he wouldn't have thought possible during those cold nights camping in a hedge in the rain.
Katy Turgoose 27
"Xtrax young peolpe's centre was more than just a place to go and hang out with friends. For me Xtrax was a life line!
My early adult life was extremely tough. I had to deal with some very traumatic events in my life. At times, this left me feeling like I had no support and completely isolated from the rest of the world.
The staff at Xtrax were some of the first adults I trusted and found I could open up too about my feelings. Talking with staff over a cuppa helped me process some of the negative feelings and deal with them in a constructive way.
Their help and guidance enabled me to rebuild my confidence and take the steps needed turn my life around. In 2006, after a lot of soul searching I made the decision to leave Hastings and start a support worker job in Hampshire.
Then after a few more years an opportunity presented itself to work for a local Industrial Company. Since working for this employer I have gained many qualifications and new skill sets. My goal for this year is to complete a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Mechanical Engineering - half way there, ‘fingers crossed’ I pass.
"The staff at Xtrax were some of the first adults I trusted and found I could open up too about my feelings"
So, all-in-all my life panned out okay despite the difficult beginning.
My advice to other young adults living in difficult circumstances is not to give up on yourself before your life has had a chance to start. Listen to the people that want to help and let them help you make positive life choices.
I will be forever grateful to the staff at Xtrax, you did more for me than you will ever know.
Much Love to you all."
Jane 21 and Laura 22
Jane and Laura are sisters who found Xtrax together, and have been able to work through their difficult circumstances to become two beautiful, working mothers.
The girls' mother left their family home when they were very young, leaving them with just their father to bring them up. The oldest sister, Jane, was left to cope with the role as mother, which increased the burden on her and made family life really challenging.
During their teenage years, Jane turned to drugs and alcohol to find some relief from the pressure she found herself under, which put extra pressure on the family and ended up with Jane leaving.
"Laura is now working as a youth worker and had a beautiful two year old daughter. Both sisters know that Xtrax staff and volunteers are there for them to share the good times and the bad"
At 16, Laura was introduced to Xtrax by a friend and quickly found that it was not only a place she could feel safe, but also where her troubled sister could feel supported and get help too.
The sisters have had their ups and downs but Xtrax has always been there in a non-judgemental and warm way, like a loving family, always ready to pick them up when they fell down during difficult times.
Both Jane and Laura were able to attend college, find themselves somewhere to live and Jane is now working full time in Hastings. She is also now expecting her first child with her partner.
Laura is now working as a youth worker and had a beautiful two year old daughter. Both sisters know that Xtrax staff and volunteers are there for them to share the good times and the bad.
All the names and pictures of young people have been changed to protect their privacy, except those who gave their kind permission to do so.