Things weren’t easy for Aidan when he was growing up. At just 14, he had to uproot his home and school life and move in with his grandparents. 

"I felt defeated because I’d lost all my friends and thought I didn’t have any way of passing my GCSEs, as I had to start my coursework all over again."

Aidan became increasingly frustrated at school, acting disruptively and not focusing on his lessons. Eventually he was excluded and only allowed to go in to sit his exams. 

"I felt like I had left myself down and was cross at the people around me. I still felt positive when I left school because I was planning on joining the Army, so it came as a real shock when they wouldn’t accept me because of a food allergy. I didn’t know where my life was going and didn’t have anything to look forward to."

Aged 16, Aidan half-heartedly went on to take part in several college courses but eventually got excluded from them.  

"I didn’t have any role models, so I saw the people around me as my family. But eventually, I realised I wanted different things from my friends. I didn’t want to spend the weekends getting drunk and seeing myself going nowhere. It wasn’t the life for me."

Aidan decided to make a change in his life, so he decided to apply to a college in Stockton where he could do The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme to gain some career direction and the English qualification that he lacked. 

"Achieve helped me actually engage with learning and look at all different aspects of my life." 

Aidan achieved many things during his two years at Achieve, from successfully completing a work placement at Pizza Hut, to leading an Enterprise project which raised money for charity. These achievements led to the realisation that he had very strong customer service skills. He left Achieve, equipped with employability skills, his Level 2 English qualification and a new-found self-belief. 

The Prince’s Trust Achieve course made a huge difference to me. Now, I have a job, I’m happier and trying to move on with my life.

"I began working at a warehouse this year but my contract was stopped due to the pandemic, then I started a new job at a call centre for Test and Trace in May, and it made me feel like I was doing something to help with the pandemic.  

"Since then, I moved into a new role at the company doing quality assurance and I now work as a customer service advisor for BT Broadband, where I have a higher salary and a more engaging workload that makes my brain work a bit more. 

"Having a stable job makes me feel like I’ve got something to work towards. I have more of a future now than I thought I would've when I was younger."