Lena (L) Winner of the Homesense Young Achiever Award, pictured with Donna Groves, Regional Manager for TK Maxx & Homesense
Lena, 20, from St Mellons, Cardiff, grew up in foster care and was extremely shy.
“I had very little confidence in myself when I was in school, and I soon fell into the wrong crowd. I found it easier and easier to skip classes, and I ended up leaving at 16 without any grades. I tried college for a bit, but when that didn’t work, I decided to try and find a full-time job.”
Lena secured a job in a small café and moved into a council flat soon after. Things seemed to be on the up for Lena, but she then had another setback.
“I had longed for independent living for what felt like forever, but my flat was a quite far from the café, and I was soon unemployed again. This made me very anxious; I now had to try and keep hold of the flat without a job and nowhere to turn – I don’t think I’d ever been so stressed before.”
Lena was referred to The Prince’s Trust Cymru through the job centre and enrolled onto the Get into Customer Services Programme with Dŵr Cymru~Welsh Water. Lena joined the programme lacking in confidence and struggling with anxiety, but her confidence grew on the programme and she was offered a full-time position after the two-week course.
Lena has now been working at Dŵr Cymru~Welsh Water for over 18 months and continues to thrive. She has gained more confidence, financial stability and has just started driving lessons in her pursuit to become more independent.
“Without the Get into Customer Services programme I don’t know what I’d be doing, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am now. I am hoping to have a long career with Dŵr Cymru~Welsh Water and would love to be a coach or a manager one day, but for now I am just taking each day as it comes. I didn’t think I would ever have an opportunity like this, so it feels great to know my hard work has paid off.”
Speaking at the awards, Lena said: “I feel really proud of myself for the first time in ages – and it feels fantastic!”
Louise Greenlees, President, TK Maxx and Homesense
“Lena is a truly inspiring young woman and is a very deserving winner of the Homesense Young Achiever award. She should be very proud and we’re sure she will continue to thrive. Well done Lena!”
TK Maxx, a Platinum partner of The Prince’s Trust, has been working with the youth charity since 2013, becoming one of The Trust’s largest delivery partners of the Get into Retail programme. TK Maxx and Homesense are proud to have reached a milestone of helping over 1,000 young people through the programme. They are also working to develop programmes for young offenders in their retail organisation.
The Prince’s Trust Cymru helps young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to realise their ambitions, by supporting them with confidence, courses and careers. The Prince’s Trust Cymru have supported over 4000 young people in Wales over the past year, with three in four young people moving into work, training or education.
Lena was presented with the award at the ceremony in Cardiff last night.
The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards recognise the achievements of young people in Wales who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life, and had a positive impact on their local community, as well as those who have played a part in supporting the work of The Trust.