Name: Julia

Age: 16

Location: Bangor

Programme: Youth Engagement Service (YES)

Growing up with grandparents that shouted and fought with one another slowly became the norm for me. They separated more than six years ago, but my grandmother became emotionally and physically abusive, so whenever I got the chance I moved in with my grandad.

I thought that my life would become easier, but he was even worse than her. I was constantly being shouted at and called names every day. But it didn’t end there. Soon I was getting pushed around and threatened. My mental health couldn’t cope with it. I started self-harming and even tried to take my life a few times.

One day at school, the nurse saw my cuts and straight away told me that I needed to get help. She put me in touch with Extern and I went home again. The situation at home started to get better, but it left scars in my mind that I couldn’t heal by myself.

Extern helped me to see the worth in myself and shaped who I really am, not what people told me I am. I’m doing much better now, I stopped self-harming and I laugh all the time. My proudest moment came one day when I was sitting in my room, looking at the ceiling, and I said to myself words that I never thought I would: ‘I’m proud of you, you are doing well…’

As soon as I said that, I ran down to Extern with tears pouring down my eyes and the biggest smile ever.

I know that when something goes wrong Extern has my back. I can always call them and ask to see one of the team members for advice – they will always come up with the best outcome possible. They would always offer me coffee, which made me feel comfortable and cared for.

Extern is more special to me than anything. The team is always really friendly and amazing. They always make me smile even if I have had a really bad day. The atmosphere is so welcoming, it makes me feel like Extern is my second home, a place that I can feel safe in and where I will always be helped and appreciated.

Julia (16), Bangor