Living like a prisoner in her own flat, Natalie, 24 from Lockleaze, Bristol, faced verbal abuse, bullying at school, and had been the main carer for her mum, who has a physical disability and mental health issues, since she was 12.

Feeling unable to leave her mum, Natalie attended just two years of secondary education and eventually became depressed.                                                                                               

Natalie says:

I was unemployed for five years. I had no aspirations and goals for myself, only for my mum. I always said all I wanted was a garden and a safe place for my mum to live.

A young carers’ group provided Natalie with a lifeline. She shared her experiences and feelings of isolation and was referred to Fairbridge, a Prince’s Trust programme that gives disadvantaged young people the tools they need to change their lives for the better.

Supported by Fairbridge staff, Natalie drew up a list of priorities that would help her turn her situation around and, one-by-one, she began working her way through them. It resulted in her finding more suitable housing for her mum, attending one-to-one sessions to rebuild her confidence, and developing a new set of friends.

When Fairbridge ended, Natalie took part in Get Started with Art, another Prince’s Trust programme that helps build confidence and develop skills. It saw her learn to let go and allow Social Services to provide more care for her mum. It also uncovered Natalie’s flair for art. She then enrolled on The Trust’s Enterprise programme, which helps unemployed young people start up in business, and set up A Paper Crafted Dream, which offers bespoke glass etchings, vinyls and papercuts. Natalie says:

I can’t believe how different my life is. The Prince’s Trust has helped me take control of my life and now that my mum’s in good hands, I feel like I can do my own thing and be happy. 

In March 2016, Natalie was a HSBC Breakthrough Award finalist at our Prince's Trust and Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.