Inspire Suffolk youths celebrate completing Prince's Trust programme

Steven Prentice, Youth Development Tutor, with a group of students who completed the Prince's Trust programme.

Youth Development Tutor, Steven Prentice, with students who completed their Prince's Trust qualification - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich youth organisation, Inspire Suffolk, held a celebratory event to recognise the achievements of seven young people over the course of the Prince’s Trust programme. 

The young people aged between 18 and 25, bravely spoke in front of family, friends and supporters about their personal experiences and the activities they took part in during the 12 weeks.  

The course, designed to support young people not currently in education or employment, included team building exercises and community projects, to help equip young people with the confidence, motivation and skills to take the next steps in their lives.  

Erin, 18, was one young person who completed the course. She explained that she was not a “school person”, but has since leant to communicate with others and improve upon her attendance. She will now be working as a receptionist for Mistley Manor care home in Manningtree.   

Erin receiving her award from Terry Hunt, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Inspire Suffolk

Erin receiving her award from Terry Hunt, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Inspire Suffolk - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“I haven't started yet, but I have shadow shifts starting soon. I saw the job on Facebook, and applied for it on the off chance. They got back to me and were really happy with me when I went for my trial day. I’m really happy,” she added. 

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“I’ll be giving the residents their mail and taking them from their rooms to their visitors,” she said of the job. 

The 18-year-old said she will miss the team now that she has finished the course, particularly Steven Prentice, Youth Development Tutor, who she said has helped her come out of her shell. 

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“I used to have a huge problem with meeting new people and communicating with them, but everyone has helped me. Steve has tried so hard; he hasn’t given up on any us. I’m going to miss it.” 

Young people, Laura and Erin, speaking about their experiences during the Prince's Trust programme at Inspire Suffolk

Laura and Erin speaking about their experiences during the Prince's Trust Programme at Inspire Suffolk - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Erin made many friends whilst on the course, one of whom was transgender youth, Leon. Leon explained that he had a disruptive home life due to being moved from children's home to children’s home – over 60 in total. It left him with issues around addiction. 

“Before the programme, I was doing nothing. I just sat in my room doing drugs and drinking alcohol, thinking it would deal with things but it didn’t,” he added. 

It was 12 weeks ago that Leon saw a leaflet for Inspire Suffolk’s Prince’s Trust programme and decided he needed to “grow up and do something with his life.” He has since learnt communication skills and resilience to persevere when things get tough. 

For the first time, Leon was able to make long-lasting relationships with people on the programme, something he says he will miss. 

18-year-old Leon receiving his Prince's Trust award in communication, teamwork and community skills

Leon, 18, receiving his Prince's Trust award in communication, teamwork and community skills - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“I am sad actually. I’ve got good relationships with near enough everyone here, which I haven’t had before. I’ve never had the stability,” he added. 

Education manager, Naomi Thompson, said she noticed a massive improvement in all the young people, but particularly how far Leon had come. 

She said: “I actually recruited some of them onto the programme, so I’ve seen them from day one. The transformations they’ve made have been incredible. Leon especially on day one wouldn’t speak to anyone – he was very withdrawn. For him to get up there is a huge transformation. They’ve all taken huge steps." 

The young people of Inspire Suffolk's Prince's Trust programme holding up their certificates

All the young people took part in team building exercises and community projects - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"A lot of people may not realise what some young people go through on a daily basis or the background that they’ve had. For them to stand up there and be so open, talking about their journeys, is such a proud moment,” she added. 

Going forward, Leon will continue to volunteer at the Suffolk Mind charity shop where he worked as part of his work experience placement, and will attend courses at WS Training in Ipswich. He has hopes to train as a barber and one day open his own barber shop. 

Leon offers some final words of wisdom to young people who may be in a similar situation to him before he joined the programme. 

“I say go for it! I thought it was going to be terrible, but now 12 weeks in having completed it, it just feels amazing.” 

For more information on the Prince’s Trust programme at Inspire Suffolk see here

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