From homelessness to a new home, a job and the determination to achieve his next goals – Quincy’s story
Homeless and struggling with his mental wellbeing, 19-year-old Quincy arrived on Switch Up’s doorstep back in 2021 desperate for help.
Quincy had moved to Nottingham from Kenya to live with his Mum aged 18 after his grandmother, who had raised him, had passed away. But things didn’t turn out exactly as Quincy had hoped…
Quincy found it difficult to fit in at school and started to get in with the wrong crowd.
“All I wanted was to be accepted. I knew I was a good person, but I was doing things to try and impress other people. That really cost me because I got kicked out of school,” explained Quincy.
Quincy’s Mum had remarried and was now caring for her younger children.
“I couldn’t do anything right. I used to have a lot of fights with my parents. My mental health was bad because I felt like no-one really cared about me or wanted me. I’d got to the point where I felt I’d had enough.”
Quincy ended up homeless and alone on the streets.
A chance post by Switch Up on social media caught Quincy’s attention and desperate for help, he sent a message.
“In less than 30 minutes they’d texted me back,” said Quincy. “I was assigned a mentor, they picked me up and took me for a McDonalds. He made me feel comfortable.”
The youth workers at Switch Up took an assessment of all Quincy’s needs. They introduced him to a housing agency worker and accompanied him to his first appointment and also provided him counselling, as the first step to getting him back on his feet.
Once Quincy had a roof over his head, he was invited to participate in a Switch Up’s boxing session and to use the gym to help him build his physical and mental wellbeing.
“When I was introduced to boxing and a coach, I started to beat off my mental health problem. I made new friends and could count on people.”
Quincy completed Switch Up’s 12-week employability programme which builds a range of life skills such as time management, interview technique and help with CV writing, as well as visits to different employers, such as Nottingham Forest FC and the Nottingham Racecourse. Through the skills and confidence he gained, Quincy made the decision to go back to college to study media.
Through the regular support of youth workers and the club’s founder Marcellus Baz, Quincy feels empowered to take back control of his life.
“Marcellus has given me the father figure I never had before. He made sure I wasn’t hungry or sleeping outside and he never wanted anything back at the end of it,” said Quincy.
Two years since first walking through the doors at Switch Up and Quincy has a secure home, a part time care job and also volunteering to coach children, as well as a working on the reception at the Switch Up gym.
Poppy Flint, Children and Young People’s Service Manager, Switch Up said: “When Quincy first came to us, he was shy and struggling with lots of things. We’ve helped him change his views of the world and boxing has helped him learn discipline and given him the self-belief he needed. He’s now got his own home, a job and working on his next goals which is incredible!”
Having turned around his life, Quincy is now determined to help other young people: “I’m happiest here. You learn from different people and also teach people what you know: it’s a good feeling. A few months back I couldn’t imagine myself in this position.”
Marcellus Baz BEM, Founder and CEO, Switch Up
Marcellus Baz, founded Switch Up after recovering from a violent Knife attack aged just 23, which ended his own boxing career. Realising how easy it would have been for him to succumb to self-destructive behaviours, Baz decided to use his own lived experience and skills to empower the young people around him to rise above their circumstances.
Through Switch Up’s award winning five pillar model of mentoring, counselling, physical activity, education and employability, Switch Up, based in Nottingham, embeds youth work principals to improve young people’s mental health, self-confidence, self-esteem, anger management and resilience.
“We believe that every young person has a gift and a purpose, but a lot of young people are stuck in a dark place – they may need food, shelter and to feel safe.
“We start from assessing the young person’s needs and agreeing a bespoke plan with them. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ plan, they might need counselling if they’re affected by trauma. Our boxing coaches are youth workers as well, able to signpost into other services. We also use art therapy and other activities if they are locking in emotions or finding it hard to express themselves. We support them on their journey of recovery and healing and help bring them into a place of light.”