Making time to help others

ELISHEA Arnold had a difficult start in life.She grew up on The Triangle Estate in Ipswich and says she had a troubled family background. After leaving school without any qualifications she moved into her own council flat in Austin Street, but her future looked bleak.

ELISHEA Arnold had a difficult start in life.

She grew up on The Triangle Estate in Ipswich and says she had a troubled family background.

After leaving school without any qualifications she moved into her own council flat in Austin Street, but her future looked bleak. That was until she answered the call for young tenants to get involved in a scheme called Young Tenants' Voices.

Ipswich Borough Homes had set up a working partnership, with the Prince's Trust, to promote greater tenant participation from their younger tenants. After meetings between IBH, the Princes Trust and other interested groups such as Connexions and 4rce Training Ltd., three young tenants attended a 'Youth Steps' training course to enable them to set up a young tenants' panel.

Elishea, 18, jumped at the chance to represent the needs and views of the young tenants.

She said: “I got involved because I wanted to get some life experience” and she now provides an invaluable link between them and the council.

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As well as speaking on behalf of the tenants, she also goes out of her way to communicate with youngsters from problem families in places such as the Triangle Estate. She feels able to empathise with these youngsters and they respond to that.

Robert McMaster Ipswich Borough Council spokesman for the scheme said: “People like Elishea can really make a difference. She appears confident and mature and she's so enthusiastic. We have to slow down these youngsters because they are trying to do so much!”

Elishea loves her new role and the fact that she is making such a vital contribution to the community. She is full of ambition and she is now working towards a level one NVQ in youth work.

Part of her course involved attending a five-day residential course in Chester where she was trained to dealing with issues such as homelessness and drugs. She has also taken part in Force Training, a program which takes youngsters with difficult backgrounds out on day trips.

She said: “I loved the days out, and didn't find it difficult.”

On one particular day trip she comforted a 14-year-old girl who was upset at the prospect of returning home after her day out.

Elishea spent time reassuring and listening to her, and was deeply touched a few days later when she received a thank you letter and a gift of chocolate from the young girl.

With the help of the council and the Prince's Trust, Elishea has been given a second chance in life. But her achievements are also as a result of her own motivation and initiative to better herself.

As Elishea said: 'I've done it off my own back. Older people expect people to have things done for them, but I got off my backside to do something.”

She is currently working in Sweden for two months, teaching English.

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