THE BLOG

#Trustat40: How The Prince's Trust Saved My Life

05/01/2016 09:05 GMT | Updated 04/01/2017 10:12 GMT

I'm standing nervously in St James' Palace on a sunny May afternoon, repeatedly readjusting my tie and trying to make my hair look half presentable. I'm about to meet Prince Charles after spending the day discussing his charity, The Prince's Trust, and what the future should hold for it. I'm thinking about how far I've come in the past 2 years and what has led to this most unlikely and surreal of situations that I found myself in.

When I cast my mind back to 2013, I simply can not imagine just how different my life was. Had you known me, you would have seen me in a homeless shelter having just gone through a break up. I had been attacked and left on the street nursing fractured ribs. Following this, I was diagnosed with a potentially life threatening illness. I'd been unemployed for over a year and was being turned down for job after job.

My confidence was at an all time low and depression had found itself a comfortable home in the back of my mind, threatening to engulf me. It isn't an exaggeration to say I didn't have any hope for myself or my future. Having left school expected to fly through life with ease, I couldn't be further from what people expected of me.

But, however bad things were, as soon as I encountered The Prince's Trust, things began to change. I took part in The Prince's Trust's Team Programme, a 12 week personal development course which helps young people in disadvantaged situations to turn their lives around.

Now, as The Prince's Trust turns 40, I want to take just a moment to reflect on the importance of the work The Prince's Trust does. As someone who has my life turned around by the youth charity, I can give personal testament to how life changing it is.

What The Trust does, above everything, is give young people a chance where no one else does. They don't judge anyone for their past - a lot of their work is with young offenders - and they appreciate how difficult it is for the young people to accept the help.

It all starts, of course, with Prince Charles. I have had the privilege of meeting him at St James' Palace and it took me by surprise how openly and genuinely passionate he is about the cause he created. If I was apprehensive about how much he truly cared for the Trust before I met him, then this was instantly cleared from my mind upon talking to him.

And yet, for all the glamour the celebrity ambassadors bring or the royal touch Prince Charles brings, it is all about the volunteers and the people who work for The Trust. During my role as a Young Ambassador, I met a lot of staff members, all of whom were amazing and enthusiastic about what they were fighting for.

It's all epitomised though, by my Team Leaders from the programme itself. They went above and beyond to help everyone on the team achieve what they wanted to achieve. I would need several thousand words to describe the impact my team leaders had on me but suffice it to say that they are possibly the greatest and most inspirational people I've ever met.

The Trust isn't about giving young people exactly what they want from life. Sadly this wouldn't be possible but what it does do is far more valuable. It gives the young people it helps the confidence, the tools and the skillset they need to improve their own lives and then take those skills throughout their adult life.

It isn't a winnable battle to eradicate the issues young people go through. It is possible to show these young people that those issues don't define who they are and that despite the barriers they have faced and the adversity they have endured, they can become whoever they want to be. This, for me, is exactly why The Trust is so crucial to this country. It's a real symbol of hope in a world where it is so easy to focus on the negative. It's personally a constant source of inspiration and a cause that I will work for, for as long as my legs will carry me.

Watching "When Ant & Dec Met the Prince: 40 Years of The Prince's Trust," which aired on Monday night and seeing so many young people who have also been helped, from young offenders to those who just didn't get the opportunities they needed, fills me with pride to be counted upon them. I find myself in a position where I'm confident and more determined than ever to succeed. I have my health, happiness and the confidence and unrelenting ambition - three things that just a couple of years ago, I couldn't foresee that I would have.

To the Prince's Trust, their staff, supporters, volunteers, ambassadors and anyone else connected: a heartfelt thank you for giving me my life back.

You can learn more about The Prince's Trust here: http://bit.ly/1mZKF28