During Children’s Mental Health Week, we asked one of the young people that we support, Lucy, 17, to tell us her story.

‘I have autism, attention deficit hyperactivity and oppositional defiant disorder. I live with my mum who has a disability, and herself suffers from mental health issues. Life can be pretty tough and having experienced some early trauma, I’ve struggled mentally.

‘One thing that really stresses me out is being shut inside – I can feel claustrophobic and panicky. Before Crossroads Care came into my life several years ago, because I felt so closed in, I used to run away a lot. I would walk around, often late at night and due to my autism and vulnerability, put myself at real risk. Often the police would have to find me.

‘I felt alone with all my problems weighing me down. I didn’t have any friends – and even if I had, I wouldn’t have opened up to them because I find it difficult to talk about what’s happened to me over the years.

‘Crossroads Care saved me. They listened to me, and together we worked on my risky behaviour and put in place a plan to help me feel safe and supported. I was given a Care Support Worker and for the first time had someone to talk to. She also introduced me to sport and other social activities.

‘I hated school and would often not attend, but once Crossroads got involved, I started to go every day. If I had any problems, they would help me manage my anger and stress, and sometimes mediate.

‘I undertook the Crossroads Care Transition project, and they are now helping me seek employment as well as attending appointments with me. I also attend the Crossroads Care Saturday Club which gets me out of the house and stops me thinking about things too much. It’s a bit of stability and I’m able to confide in people there, especially Danielle who knows so much about me and really understands. I have developed friendships at the club and can be myself there.

‘When my mum suffered from organ failure in December 2020 which led to septicaemia, she was rushed to hospital to undergo an emergency operation. She was then placed in an induced coma for several weeks. I had to go into care because other members of my family found it too difficult to support my needs. Again, Crossroads Care were a lifeline. They continued to support me every day, ensuring I saw a familiar face. At one stage, I was told my mum was going to die, and the worry was just terrible — seeing my Crossroads Care Support Workers daily meant everything to me.

‘The thing I like most about the Crossroads Care staff is that they are lovely and so funny. They listen to me and make me feel safe. They have been the only constant through some really bad times. They make me feel happier. If Crossroads hadn’t come into my life, I wouldn’t have a future and would still be the worst version of myself.

‘Thanks to Crossroads, I’m in a different place now. I still get anxious and some times are worse than others, but I have a girlfriend and friends now. It’s not really about looking too far into the future, but about taking small, manageable steps. And I know that if I fall, or things become too much, Crossroads will always be there to catch me.’

* Photograph posed by a model.