A campaign of threats and intimidation forced Natalie, 22, from Bangor, and her family out of their home after her mother witnessed a crime. Bricks were regularly thrown through their windows.
The move didn’t change things; others were informed and the harassment continued. Natalie became accustomed to moving around the living room on her hands and knees.
Her education and mental health suffered; she considered suicide, was prescribed anti-depressants, and was rushed to hospital more than once. Despite this, she achieved five GCSEs but was inevitably socially withdrawn, fearful and desperately lacking in confidence.
An online search for help directed Natalie to our Explore programme (formerly called Fairbridge). Extremely nervous and apprehensive, Natalie gave Explore her best shot, initially taking her mother along for support, then, as her confidence grew, attended on her own.
She found the staff and other young people welcoming and supportive and she started to relax and enjoy it.
"I truly believe it saved my life. Mairead [Natalie's outreach worker] was like my rock, my big sister – the support she gave me and her enthusiasm for her job is phenomenal!"
Natalie attained her Entry Level 3 Award and began enthusiastically pursuing a career in the media. She engaged on several relevant courses before successfully earning a place on a highly competitive course with the BBC.
"I was depressed, hopeless, lonely, I felt a lot of fear and I found it really hard to trust people. I couldn't see a future for myself. The Prince’s Trust helped me make friends and made me feel like I can achieve anything. To get this experience with the BBC is amazing – but I’d never have had the self-belief to do it if it wasn’t for everyone at Explore."
Gradually conquering her depression and better able to handle her emotions, Natalie has made friends for life and feels she can do anything she puts her mind to.