Jay Kelly is our National Ascential Educational Achiever of the Year 2019. This award recognises young people who have overcome barriers, developed new skills and improved their education prospects.
"When I was 14 I realised I felt different to other girls my age and I began to question my gender. I made the difficult decision to come out as transgender a couple of years later which my family struggled to accept as I began to live as a man.
"This coupled with struggles with my mental health meant I didn’t get the grades I wanted at GCSE and when I was studying to retake them my mental health deteriorated further and I was hospitalised for four months.
"I was so anxious – I didn’t want to leave the house and the thought of using public transport to get anywhere was terrifying. I was self-harming regularly and couldn’t see a future for myself.
"The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme was suggested to me and I saw it as an opportunity to change things for the better. I was nervous to begin with but the programme pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me start to believe in myself again.
Duncan Painter, Chief Executive Officer, Ascential says: