This time last year Hazel Webb was sofa surfing, leading a somewhat nomadic existence and struggling to find not just a purpose in life, but a reason for life itself.
Hazel wants it to be known just how much the staff at the Cangle have been instrumental in helping her overcome a traumatic period in her life.
But more than that, she wants to change a misconception that she says many people in Haverhill have of just what goes on at the Cangle - a project run the Riverside ECHG to help 16 to 25-year-olds improve their lives at a time when they need help most.
Unable to live at home due to a breakdown in her relationship with her family, Hazel spent nine months sofa surfing, including a spell living in Milton Keynes, before seeing her application to move into the Cangle accepted in January.
Since then she has been able to improve her outlook on life, cope with some of her inner demons and find a new direction, thanks in no small part to the involvement her support worker, who got her the help she needed.
She said: “My support worker literally just goes that one extra step to make you feel like your voice is being heard, that there’s a light at the end of every dark tunnel.
“My anger management course has just given me a completely different outlook.
“I’m willing to be a support worker to help other people who are going through the same things as me.
“I’ve found my career path and found what I want to do.”
A few months ago, Hazel became a resident representative at the Cangle and is also on the Riverside Get Connected project, which aims to make it clearer to people that they can get supported or sheltered accommodation - age depending - and how to go about it.
The project has a Fecebook page - https://www.facebook.com/GetConnectedRiverside - for people who are homeless and looking for accommodation.
Having left Castle Manor College with an E in her English GCSE, the Cangle is now helping Hazel retake the subject and she is predicted to get an A.
One of the things Hazel is most keen to do is make it clear that the Cangle is not a place used by drug addicts or ne’er-do-wells, an attitude she says she has regularly encountered locally.
“People treat us all as one category.
“We are all individuals who have a story to tell. There’s a reason why someone has turned out the way they are.
“It just annoys me that wherever I go people say ‘you live down the Cangle you must do this or you must do that’ but I don’t.
“I had nowhere else to go and now I want to get my life back on track and look at the positives and not the negatives and to prove to my family that I’m not a failure.
“I’ve really got a passion inside me to change people’s opinions about the Cangle.
“The Cangle have been amazing. They seem to have time for me when no-one else has.
“I just want to use my example to get a good vibe out there to say that it’s possible for anyone who doesn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel to have a better outlook.
“Words can’t explain how the Cangle have really changed my life and how grateful I am.
“It makes me feel that I am worth something.”