Though he’s still unsure of what the future holds, Leigham Stephens is trying to keep busy and figure out his next step. Leigham started the Team programme, run by Young Gloucestershire, in January 2020. Though the pandemic has certainly made life more difficult, he is determined to keep moving forward.

“Before going on the programme, I knew I wanted to do something in life but didn’t know how to go about making a change and getting a job. At school, I had struggled to focus and my behaviour wasn’t good. I went onto college to study carpentry but the course became too pressurised so I didn’t continue past Level 2. Instead, I got a job at Tesco which I enjoyed but I had to leave after a nasty scooter accident meant taking extended time off. I began drinking more and my behaviour changed. Around this time, I was close to being homeless. I was living somewhere that didn’t feel safe, struggling to manage money and getting in trouble. I ended up going to the police station for help because my mental health was getting so bad. Gradually, I was connected with the right services and I moved into safer accommodation.

“One of my housemates had been on Team and was always talking about how good it was. My anxiety meant it took me a while to sign up but I’m so glad I did. The programme gave me a purpose – it gave me a reason to go to bed in good time at night and get up in the morning. I enjoyed the routine of getting the bus each day and looked forward to seeing the group.

I found myself taking on a leadership role on Team, especially when it came to our community project, which I loved. We helped to refurbish the Elmscroft Community Centre and I became the person who would cheer everyone else up. I really enjoyed the feeling that I was helping others. I even ran the de-briefing session afterwards!

“The staff also helped us with interview prep and CVs which massively boosted my confidence. When we found a job I could apply for, I had the self-belief to go for it. I got really good feedback from the interview and it was such a big step to get to that point. I felt like I learned so much.

“The pandemic has made things harder but I’m trying to look after myself by getting fresh air and exercise. I visit my nan most days to check she’s ok which has helped both of us.”

Though he has been finding things hard recently, Leigham is determined to keep looking forward.

I’ve recently started helping to decorate the space used by a youth club in a local coffee shop and I’m looking for things to keep me busy. I’m still unsure of what the future holds but I think I’d be good at working with and helping young people. I’m just taking it one step at a time.

“To someone thinking of getting in touch with The Prince’s Trust, I’d say go for it! Team was the best thing I’ve done.”