Rachel Smyth is our National Delta Air Lines Rising Star Award winner 2019. The award recognises young people who have overcome barriers and are in sustainable employment.
Rachel, 24, from Glenburn, fell pregnant whilst she was at school. She was intent on doing well so she could provide for her son, but after she left college and couldn't find work, money ran low and she would often miss her own meals so that her son didn't go without.
"Most girls at my age were out with their friends and weren't thinking about having babies, but I was a single mum trying to get through school and college whilst holding down a part time job and caring for my son.
"I thought I'd easily get a hairdressing job after studying it at college, but there was nothing going and I was forced to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance. Sometimes money was so tight I couldn't afford the electricity to warm the house and often lived off one meal a day so that my son could have three."
Rachel’s JobCentre Plus work coach suggested she enrolled on Get into Healthcare, a Prince's Trust programme run in partnership with the NHS, that gives unemployed young people the skills they need to secure work in the sector.
"All I had was my hairdressing skills so I didn't think I stood a chance of being selected, but I was and I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard!" Get into Healthcare lasted six weeks, and in the final week Rachel was interviewed and secured a job with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
"Life is pretty fantastic right now; I work as a Healthcare Assistant at the Royal Hospital for Children and I'm on the path to working out next steps to applying to do a degree in Mental Health Nursing."