When we first met Salome (her friends call her Shay) last year, she had recently arrived in the UK. Shay was born in Latvia, part of a Jewish family and had travelled frequently to ensure her parents could find work. She had moved schools and homes many times during her childhood and teen years. Initially, Shay was really quiet and most comfortable when others would take the lead.

During her time with TYA Shay has taken part in a wide variety of skills-based workshops, discussions and activities. She began by exploring with us her journey prior to living in the UK, mapping out her challenges, her growth and what coming to the UK meant for her. Shay has joined in many TYA social action projects within the Barnsley area, taking the time to voluntarily plan and deliver social action project such as community Christmas parties, community festivals, painting local parks and holding performances at Central Council events in Barnsley.

Next month Shay will be climbing Mount Snowdon alongside young people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This challenge has seen months of preparation, attending sessions and residentials aimed at social mixing, meeting new people and making new friends; Shay has really had to push herself, spending a lot of time outside of her comfort zone. This has been the toughest and most rewarding part of the journey for Shay. She says she has become more confident and able to make friends from different backgrounds, as well as becoming more aware of her own values. She aspires to become a TYA Ambassador in order to enhance her skills and C.V. and she has completed our Selfiesured app, which means she has tracked her personal growth and journey so we can give her a reference which she hopes will allow her to stand out from the crowd when applying for college and future employment.

Looking back on over a busy time Shay said, “The Youth Association has made my first year in the UK unforgettable and pushed me to explore qualities about myself I never knew existed.”