Ieuan's Story

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Ieuan, aged 17, joined Cyrenians Green Skills Centre in 2023. This is his story.

I left school as soon as I could, I hated it, it was just so... terrible. But I knew I needed to do something, I just wasn’t sure what was out there for me.

I started off at HYPE doing a few different groups like Fruitful Woods and Green Gym. Then one day they offered a group of us a chance to come out and visit the Green Skills Centre and I just immediately loved it. It was such a nice environment and the people were lovely.

I was antisocial when I started out; school had kinda drained me, but the first day at the Green Skills Centre they just had us out in the orchard apple picking. It was so chill and relaxed. It was a good way to start opening up and get out there.

The first thing I realised about Cyrenians is the sense of freedom. I wasn’t treated like a child – if I didn’t want to do something, I could say no, and that was okay. I was trusted and respected just by being there. Even in high school I was treated like a 6-year-old – it was irritating. Here though, I was treated like an adult, I had adult-like responsibilities, and what I said mattered.

While working with the team I was able to get some qualifications including my Forestry Outdoor Learning Award (FOLA). It was a different way of learning – no written exams or tests, just real practical learning.

I loved it – it had a massive impact on me and got me out of my shell. It got me involved in things that I now really like doing. I wouldn’t have known I liked bush craft, and fire lighting, and maintenance stuff without it – but that’s all really cool. The course ran in winter and some days it was minus ten! Real character-building temperatures. But I still went, and still learned, because it was great.

They’re stuck with me now! My love for the outdoors has really grown, and when the course finished, I wasn’t ready to move on. I started volunteering, then they offered me a 6-month apprenticeship.

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Being here is massively different to just writing and being stuck behind a desk for six hours dying. Here, you’re active, learning as you go and feeling like you’re being productive. My apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to get loads of qualifications, using all kinds of equipment like drills, mowers, strimmers – I'm even getting a handle on the tractor! When would I have been able to do stuff like this at school?

It’s not just the practical stuff though. My people skills are so much better, and I think that’s probably the most important thing because it’s applicable in everyday life. I was really good at figuring out how to fly under the radar and be ignored by groups of people, but coming here taught me how to be socially independent and feel confident. I’ve even helped deliver FOLA courses to other young people now, that’s super sick!

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Everyone here is kind, open-minded and understanding. That’s the three most important things about people here at Cyrenians. Young people from any background can come here, and feel safe and understood. They know what they’re doing, and can navigate situations when things aren’t going smoothly – they get that down 100% of the time.

Out of everyone Sam (Outdoor Education Officer) has made the biggest impact in my life. He leads by example – he's understanding and caring. I’ve seen him speaking to young people who have completely opposite views – they can sometimes say things that are problematic or rude and he just approaches it with such a delicate hand and comes from a point of true sincerity.

He’s a genuinely great dude – I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as wonderful as him. He’s basically the exact person I hope to be when I’m older...apart from bald! 

Ieuan has really blossomed at the Green Skills Centre. He summed it up really nicely himself when he said that what he was looking for was guidance without a forced hand. - Sam Gardiner, Outdoor Education Officer 

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I’m happy. That’s the biggest change. Before I came here, I was not happy. Everyone is unhappy at points, I get that, but I was so unhappy. Coming here consistently, getting to try new things and just being with wonderful people who listen and care has had a massive impact on my mental health.

Throughout my entire time here at the Green Skills Centre all of the team have checked up on me. When they do, I feel like I’m really valued. I feel like I am loved. And I feel like a lot of people get that here, not just me.

People wouldn’t keep coming back if it wasn’t such a great place to be. And people do come back – some people have been coming to learn, work and volunteer here for over 10 years!

The impact this place has had on me, that these people have had on me, is indescribable. I quite literally would not be here without them.


Ieuan is currently working at the Green Skills Centre and is in the process for applying for the youth advisory board of the Ernest Cook Trust, an opportunity recommended to him by Sam, Cyrenians Outdoor Education Officer. Of the opportunity Ieuan said ‘I wouldn’t have applied for something like this before coming here, but I want to get involved in helping other young people get access to projects like this. Maybe in the future I could be delivering conferences with them, or teaching groups and delivering training!’