“I moved with my family to the UK in 2013. We didn’t have any friends or other family here. I come from a small town in Poland where almost everyone was white. It was so different here, with a mixture of people and cultures. I found it quite difficult initially. I was seeing a very different community. I couldn’t interact with them and I felt isolated. Two months later I started high school. Because I didn’t speak English I fell into hanging around with the Polish boys. They were a lot older than me and would often get into trouble. It wasn’t what I wanted but I didn’t have the confidence to break away from them. When they left high school I started to think about my own future. Those boys had little motivation to continue education. One of the main reasons my parents brought us here was to educate ourselves.
In Year 11, Ash (who founded CATCH) came and gave a talk at our school. I was very active throughout the lesson and he invited me to come visit. At the start my confidence and communication was poor. I didn’t feel like I could offer anything. But slowly I started to feel more comfortable and built myself up. I started to get involved in the activities. That was three years ago. Now, I have multiple qualifications and have trained in first aid training and safeguarding. I’m also a football and table tennis coach. I’ve been able to gain valuable work experience arranged by CATCH. This place has boosted my career prospects. And most importantly for me, I’m going to university later this year to study business and marketing. I want to work in the advertisement industry. I feel I’m quite creative, and could excel in that.
I love the name ‘ARK’ (the name of the building here at CATCH). It reminds me of the biblical story. When I was in high school I was hanging around the streets, not getting up to much good. The ARK brought me off the streets, into a safe, friendly environment. Without it I would most likely still be on the streets without much hope of a future. ARK is very fitting.”
CATCH is a volunteer led organisation based in Harehills that works to raise the aspirations of local young people. The Foundation supported the organization through a Healthy Holidays grant, enabling attendees to broaden their food horizons and gender attitudes towards cooking, as well as offer nutritious meals to over 90 young people that attend their weekly Youth Club.