I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given in my life, but I’ll never forget my roots and the lessons I learnt growing up. I was brought up by my mum in a council house and without a father figure – it was tough. You could see other young people resigning themselves to a particular way of life, surrounded by negativity with few aspirations or goals for the future.
When I was signed by Capitol Records at 15, it was as if I’d been selected to be given a lifeline and a way out. I’d sent in a few vocal tracks recorded on a karaoke machine and the fact a producer had taken the time to listen to them, and actually liked them, completely blew me away. It was a golden ticket, and a moment in my life for which I am eternally grateful.
Thankfully there are organisations out there who work tirelessly to provide opportunities for these young people, one of which is The Prince’s Trust. I’ve been an Ambassador for The Trust for over 10 years and have witnessed first-hand the huge impact of their work on young people. Their programmes, staff and volunteers enable young people to realise their potential, giving them the self-belief that with the right mindset and support, anything is possible.
I’ve met so many people who’ve secured jobs, become entrepreneurs or re-engaged with education through The Trust – their range and influence of their work is phenomenal.
There are also household names out there who prove that The Trust’s formulas work. The magician Dynamo, actor Idris Elba and singer Paloma Faith are just a few examples of people who’ve achieved success thanks to support from The Trust, and they are just three of over 825,000 young people who’ve been helped by this amazing charity since it was established in 1976.
This week The Trust released a special report, supported by HSBC, which talks about the impact of their work over the last four decades and the huge benefits on society. In the West Midlands, The Trust has contributed £134 million to society in the last ten years alone. These figures relate to helping young people get off benefits and into work, reduced offending and re-offending, and the value of supporting a young person into education. It’s incredible really that by supporting individuals, The Prince’s Trust enables local economies and communities to thrive.
People say it’s our experiences that make us who we are – and I think that’s true to an extent. But it’s also the people around us, both the good and bad, that influence our perspectives, our choices, and ultimately the way we see ourselves now and in the future. The Prince’s Trust is a rock for young people, bringing communities together by giving the people who need it most a chance to succeed. I congratulate them on everything they’ve achieved, and I look forward to playing my part in their work in the future.