Colin’s first time at the Y Space Cooma was so much a “10 out of 10” experience he’s never looked back.
The space, a youth centre operated by the Y NSW for young people aged 12 to 17, offers a safe and friendly environment for young people to drop in, connect and discover support services.
Colin, 16, began attending the service in 2019 after discovering the Y’s holiday programs and afternoon school drop-ins. His time at Cooma Y Space has opened his eyes to new experiences and provided opportunities to make new friends.
“I enjoy hanging with friends during school drop-ins and just getting involved with the holiday program. One time we went to Tathra, which was so much fun,” he said.
Y Space was also a source of support during the COVID-19 pandemic, which left him struggling with his mental health due to the isolation he felt from his friends and peers.
“I wasn’t able to interact with anybody. Being away from friends, I started feeling lonely,” he said.
The efforts of Youth Program Coordinator Cathy Guion in reaching out during the pandemic helped him cope with the social isolation.
“During the COVID lockdown Cathy checked in with me a lot. It was thoughtful and I appreciated it a lot. I felt good knowing that somebody reached out to me and was able to help,” he said.
The Year 11 student is quick to encourage others to visit the service.
“It's a space for young people to access support, make some new friends, try new things, attend the holiday program and afternoon school drop-ins, and just have a chat with the Y Space workers.”
The space “makes you feel like you’re at home”, he said.
“It makes me happy. It makes me feel safe. I reckon it’s awesome for other young people to come and be in a relaxed space. If they need help with anything, they know to come to the Y.
“It’s a place for you to interact with others and share your thoughts with others, like if you’re having troubles at home or mental health struggles.”
The experiences he’s had at Y Space have also helped him develop confidence in social settings, which has been essential to his job in the hospitality industry.
“I can get nervous really easily. Having the confidence to have a conversation was really helpful and I use that skill with my work as well,” Colin said.
The Y Space Cooma offers support and advocacy programs for young people experiencing situations such as homelessness, financial difficulty, disengagement from education and training, employment support or family breakdown.
Young people can also access information and referrals relating to health, safety, relationships, education, training, employment, culture and justice issues, along with psychosocial support and life skills including career advice and financial management.