Craig Hadwin had a disruptive childhood and was desperate for a fresh start, but had no money and felt he had to care for his ill mother. He took a brave step to move away and has turned his life around. 

Craig, aged 23, grew up in Liverpool but his family moved about a lot which never gave him the chance to settle in school and make friends. Craig was bullied for several months and despite support from the local education authorities and tutoring away from the school, things became worse. Craig was suffering from acute anxiety but knowing the importance of having an education, and following support from a child psychologist, he tried to go back to school. However, his anxiety made him physically ill and he stopped short of the school gates.

When Craig turned 18 he knew he needed to move away from Liverpool to give himself a chance of a brighter future. Craig’s mum was unwell at the time and he was torn between the desire to make a better life for himself and concern for his mum. He took the decision to save as much money as he could until he was confident his mum would keep doctor’s appointments and his step-dad would be able to look after the family.
After several months, he was ready to leave. He didn’t know where he wanted to go, but looked on the map and decided he would like to live in a town near the coast. Craig settled on Ipswich, a town where he hoped he could make a fresh start. 

You have to show no fear and make it happen. The world’s not a nice place. Anything could happen. But you need to prepare yourself and have patience. Working with people with challenging backgrounds, I can relate to it. I am lucky I can go back home – knowing this makes you appreciate where you came from.

Craig arrived on a Sunday afternoon to find everything closed. He made his way to a hostel and they found him a bed for the night. The next day, there were no beds available and he was given blankets from the Salvation Army and slept by the docks. Within a few days, a flat was offered and now having a fixed address, Craig was able to apply for an apprenticeship in catering. 

The apprenticeship lasted a few months, but at the time, a lack motivation coupled with long hours and travel were too much for Craig. He found himself back on benefits and once again looking for work with little experience and no qualifications. At a local wellbeing and counselling service (4YP), Craig found out about Talent Match and thought he'd really benefit from the one-to-one support on offer. Whilst he was waiting to start the Talent Match programme, Craig volunteered at 4YP as he really enjoyed working with young people.

During his first Talent Match meeting, he explained to his Advocate that although his background and skills were in catering, he really wanted to find out more about youth work. He asked for her help in securing training to support this. Craig liked the fact that, unlike other providers, Talent Match would not force him into any job, but would focus on him as an individual. This allowed him the opportunity to pursue a vocation in something that he valued without any added pressure.

Craig took on a paid role with Talent Match which involved recruiting young people to the programme. The knowledge he gained from this role helped him to become confident enough to apply for a full time role with The Prince's Trust. He now works as a Job Ambassador, undertaking outreach work with young people in Norwich and Ipswich and providing them with information to support them into positive outcomes.

Craig is due to undertake his Level 3 in Working with Young People qualification and he is confident that with the support available to him, he can achieve his goal of a long term career within this industry. Craig feels fortunate to have not only the support of Talent Match, but to be able to go home to Liverpool and to share his success with his very proud family.

Inspired by Craig's story?

Find out more about Talent Match