The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards will come to Cardiff on 22nd November to recognise the achievements of disadvantaged young people in Wales who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life, had a positive impact on their local community, as well as those who have played a part in supporting the work of The Trust across Wales. There are seven awards in total.
Julie Bean, an 18 year old from Llanelli has won the HSBC Breakthrough Award.
“I am part of a large family and wasn’t allowed many of the privileges my siblings enjoyed; I don’t know why I was treated differently, but it made me feel like an outcast in my own home.”
Despite the challenges faced at home, Julie managed to complete her college course. As she finished, a careers advisor suggested she sign up to Team, a 12-week Prince’s Trust programme that builds the confidence, employability skills and self-esteem of unemployed young people.
“I couldn’t even make eye contact with other people when I first joined Team, but after a few hours I felt less anxious and started joining in with all the activities.”
“One of the best things about Team was our residential – I hadn’t laughed so much in years! But the excitement vanished as soon as we were heading home; it was the last thing I wanted to do and I was dreading what I’d have to face.”
After returning from the Team residential, Julie took a big step towards changing her future.
“I left home the following day and didn’t go back. My Team Leader helped me find emergency bedding through social services and then I went on to live in sheltered accommodation.”
Julie completed Team surrounded by friends and pursuing her passion for helping others.
“Up until Team, my life hadn’t been worth living. The Prince’s Trust and Team, particularly my Team Leader Elena, have been the making of me. It has enabled me to change my life and I find it hard to put into words how I feel. It makes me so happy to see how far I’ve come.”
Julie is following her passion helping other young people, and currently completing a Level 1 NVQ in Customer Service.
Ian Stuart, CEO, HSBC UK, said:
“The HSBC Breakthrough Award recognises the progress of young people who have developed new skills to enable them to take positive steps in facing their challenges and improving their lives. Julie has certainly achieved this and is a worthy winner of the award this year. Congratulations!”
11 unemployed young people from Port Talbot worked together to create a community garden and provide produce for the local foodbank to win this year’s VMware Community Impact Award.
The young people were participating on Team, a 12-week programme from The Prince’s Trust that builds the confidence and employability skills of unemployed young people.
Lucy John, Team member said:
“We didn’t all get on when we started Team, but when we were challenged to do a project to benefit the community, something clicked. We started thinking, and agreed on creating a community allotment garden at a local training centre.
“Initially we thought staff and residents would buy produce from the allotments, but given there are people in the community who can’t afford to buy food, it didn’t seem right. So we came up with the idea of donating the produce to the local foodbank instead.”
Putting pen to paper, the Team drew up designs, then sought advice from a local sustainable gardening expert and obtained donations from local businesses.
“We built nine beds in total, using local and recycled materials wherever possible to minimise the carbon footprint, and sowed them with different fruit and vegetables. We also built an outdoor classroom and made a seating area for the centre’s staff and learners to relax on.”
Keen for the whole community to benefit, the young people of Team Phoenix persuaded two local schools to get involved. They took on one of the allotment beds for educational purposes, and also managed to get the YMCA to take on another bed to help educate its users about healthy eating.
“It feels good knowing we’ve done something that will benefit people who aren’t as well off as others; and ever since Swansea City FC got on board, the publicity helped us to get loads of locals volunteering to help maintain the garden, which is brilliant.”
The young people of Team Phoenix worked together for the greater good, and are now pursuing their personal goals through education, training or employment.
Cordelia Davies, a 17 year old from Kidwelly has won the G4S Educational Achiever Award
Cordelia has two rare disorders, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Kyphoscoliosis, which make her prone to broken bones, joint dislocations and bruising.
“Three years ago I dislocated my knee, fractured my kneecap and tore ligaments. It still hasn’t healed properly and will dislocate 15-20 times a day.”
Her conditions cause her a lot of pain, which made it more practical for Cordelia to be home-educated from the age of five.
“I loved learning from home, but even though I am very sociable, the closer I got to college age, the more I started to worry about fitting in; how things worked, the routine and everything else.”
“I started feeling unsure about my future, so I went to see a careers advisor who suggested I signed up to Achieve.”
Achieve is a programme from The Prince’s Trust that builds the confidence and motivation of young people who are struggling at school.
“To my delight, I really enjoyed Achieve. I liked the structure, the support, and as my confidence grew, I began to realise that achieving qualifications would be possible, despite my disabilities – The other students even voted for me to be their class representative!”
“A while later, my Achieve advisor suggested I should run for Disabled Students Officer at the Student Union elections – and I won! I have been representing students with disabilities on campus ever since and can’t believe what I’ve achieved. I’m hoping to be re-elected next year.”
“My teachers at college and Achieve helped me believe in myself and truly understand my strengths. I hope to be able to empower other young people with disabilities to follow their dreams, starting right now!”
Cordelia has completed her first year at college and has been accepted to take her Art and Design Level 1. She never dreamed this would be possible, and now aspires to become an art teacher.
Alex and Isabelle Wootton, young restaurant owners from Harlech, have won the NatWest Enterprise Award
Alex, 25, and Isabelle, 23, met through their work in the catering industry. They earned low wages and struggled when work started taking them in different directions; subsequently they made the tough decision to leave their jobs.
“When we left our previous jobs, we saw it as an opportunity and started looking into opening a restaurant of our own. Family connections pulled us towards Harlech, where we found a run-down café opposite the castle.”
Using the money they had left from their savings, Alex and Isabelle bought a lorry load of wooden pallets and, with just a hand saw, nails and hammers, they started to make their own furniture for their rustic bistro idea.
After multiple banks turned them down for loans, Alex and Isabelle started to question whether they had made the right decision, but still were determined to make it work. When they went online to look for business support, they came across Enterprise, a Prince’s Trust programme that helps unemployed young people start their own business.
“The Enterprise course was full of great information, but what was game-changing for us was the loan The Trust gave us to buy equipment for the bistro. Peter, the mentor they assigned us, gave us invaluable advice on cash flow and seasonal trade.”
A few months after completing the course, Alex and Isabelle launched ‘As.Is’, serving quality Italian-themed food such as white crab salad and seared duck breast, and they have now extended the restaurant to their first floor so they can cater for up to 50 customers.
“Business is strong. It’s exhausting, but for all the right reasons. What we’ve achieved is incredible; it’s made us stronger as a couple and has laid the foundations for a secure future for us.”
Alex and Isabelle recently married and are planning to start a family.
Oliver Watts, chairman of NatWest’s South West and Wales regional board said:
“NatWest has been a partner of The Prince’s Trust for 17 years now, in particular through funding The Trust’s Enterprise programme. We are therefore proud to sponsor the Enterprise Award, which recognises those young people who have overcome serious difficulties in order to achieve success in creating a sustainable business or social enterprise. Alex and Isabelle have done exceptionally well and truly deserve the award this year.”
Levi Roberts, a 21-year old from Port Talbot has won the Pro Steel Engineering Rising Star Award
Levi has always been a sociable person, but became depressed after he lost his apprenticeship with a company that went into administration; and struggled to find alternative work.
“My dad has always been a grafter. He brought me up to work hard and that’s why I refused to claim Jobseekers; I just kept looking for work. It was tough when all my friends were doing well in their lives because they could afford to, and I felt like a failure.”
Despite his struggles, Levi continued applying for jobs and after months of finding occasional work, he thought he’d landed on his feet when he got a job at a glassmaking company; but that dried up too, and he found himself at breaking point.
“I remembered talking to a Prince’s Trust Executive at the Job Centre a few months earlier, and sent them a text asking if there were any upcoming programmes I could take part in.”
The answer was Get into Customer Services, a Prince’s Trust programme delivered in partnership with HSBC, which gives unemployed young people the skills they need to find work in the industry.
“The atmosphere at HSBC was brilliant. I could see people working hard but still enjoying themselves and you don’t see that in many places. I couldn’t quite believe it when I was offered a job at the end – HSBC and The Prince’s Trust believed in me, and now I do too!”
Levi now works full-time as a Customer Service Advisor at HSBC in Swansea and has been chosen to go on HSBC’s MDA (My Development Academy) programme.
“In the future I’d like to mentor other people at HSBC, but right now I’ve been chosen to go on HSBC’s MDA programme to further progress my own career. Alongside work, I’ve enrolled onto a Drug and Alcohol Substance Misuse degree too, after losing someone I love to drugs. I wouldn’t have felt good enough to apply before, but now I know I can achieve anything.”
Richard Selby, Director of Pro Steel Engineering said:
“The Pro Steel Engineering Rising Star Award recognises young people who are now in sustainable employment, despite having faced substantial personal obstacles. Levi has certainly achieved this and is a worthy winner of the award this year – Congratulations!”
James Wilkie, a 26 year old from Cardiff, has won the Homesense Young Achiever Award
James developed anxiety and depression after a long spell of unemployment, and lost all respect for himself.
“I wasn’t in a very good place – The longer I remained unemployed, the more rubbish I felt. I struggled every single day.
James’ Job Centre Advisor suggested he join Fairbridge, a Prince’s Trust Programme that builds the confidence and motivation of disadvantaged young people.
“The Job Centre thought Fairbridge would be good fit for me, but I wasn’t so sure. Being in a room with a bunch of people I didn’t know was so daunting that I had to sit outside in reception to try and calm myself down.”
The Fairbridge staff eventually managed to encourage James to join the group, and there was an immediate change in his outlook.
“That was it for me. I enjoyed our residential so much, I didn’t want to come home! Back at the Fairbridge centre, we did science, engineering, technology and maths activities, and I even gained a Level 2 qualification in food hygiene.”
Towards the end of his time on Fairbridge, James saw a poster advertising Get into Care, another Prince’s Trust course delivered in partnership with Willowbrook House that gives unemployed young people the skills they need to find work in the care sector.
“Get into Care was the best thing I’ve ever done because it helped me to discover the most rewarding job in the world; helping people who can’t look after themselves. It’s what I do for a living now.”
“If I hadn’t got involved with them I’d still be sat at home, but I pushed myself and now I have a job and a life!”
Jon Tucker, a 22 year old from Cardiff, has won Horizon Nuclear Power Young Ambassador of the Year
Jon achieved an NVQ in catering, but after being unable to find employment, he suffered with such low confidence that he barely left the house for two years and was prescribed anti-depressants.
“I bottled everything up. I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, mostly because I couldn’t even work out what was happening to me! I’d been unemployed for so long, my confidence plummeted and depression was swallowing me whole. I cut myself off from my friends, was afraid of meeting new people, and rarely left the house.”
Encouraged by his family, Jon visited his local youth centre to seek help, and it was there that a Career Wales advisor told him about Fairbridge, a programme from The Prince’s Trust that builds the confidence and motivation of disadvantaged young people.
“I was so anxious on the first day of Fairbridge, but I knew I had to face my fears. When I walked through the door and saw how relaxed everything was, I felt this wave of relief.
“I loved everything about Fairbridge; the staff, the other young people, they made me look forward to getting up in the morning. I did things I never thought I’d do, like gorge walking, and mountain hiking; and I stopped being scared of interacting with people.”
His next move involved another Prince’s Trust programme, Get into Football, delivered in partnership with Cardiff City FC. The programme is designed to build the employability skills of unemployed young people so they can find work in the sector.
“That’s when I realised I wanted to be a sports coach and inspire other young people. After the course, I became a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, got a bar job to build my social skills, volunteered with Cardiff City FC and started studying for my Level 3 diploma in sport performance and excellence.”
“The Prince’s Trust has been my springboard to a whole new world, and I’m in a much better frame of mind now; I no longer take anti-depressants and I’m making my life a success. It feels amazing!”
Greg Evans, Operations Director of Horizon Nuclear Power said:
“The Horizon Nuclear Power Young Ambassador of the Year Award recognises the progress of young people who have become exceptional ambassadors for The Prince’s Trust after completing a programme with the charity. Jon has certainly achieved this and is a worthy winner of the award this year – Congratulations!”
The Welsh event on 22nd November will be the last in a series of Prince’s Trust events across the UK, celebrating the achievements of inspirational young people across the UK.
TK Maxx is a Platinum partner of The Prince’s Trust and has been working with them since since 2013, becoming one of the Trust’s largest delivery partners of the Get into Retail programme. This two to six week course develops young people’s skills in the retail sector and supports them into positive outcomes in retail.
In 2016 HomeSense, the sister company of TK Maxx, appointed The Prince’s Trust as their national charity partner. Homesense are supporting The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme which helps vulnerable young people achieve in their local communities. Store associates and customers from across Homesense’s 55 stores are raising funds for the Trust through a number of in-store campaigns.
TK Maxx and HomeSense are proud to have helped over 875 young people through the Get into Retail programme, and their sponsorship of the Achieve programme.
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust gives disadvantaged young people the skills and confidence to find a job. Three in four young people helped by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education