24-year-old Reece Hayes from Glasgow has won The Prince’s Trust Young Achiever Award at the inaugural 2020 Daily Record Pride of Scotland Awards, in partnership with TSB.
The Awards celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable people who make our world a better place. Screened on STV on 31st December at 10.45pm, 11 extraordinary winners will be honoured. The Prince’s Trust Young Achiever award recognises the achievements of a young person who has turned their life around and is now giving back to their local community by helping others do the same.
Reece had a traumatic childhood as a young carer and as he struggled to cope, he became angry, suicidal and picked fights with anyone he could.
"I was a carer for my mum since I was 11. It could be very manic and difficult to deal with because of the challenges around poor mental health."
Realising that living at home was only exacerbating the problem, Reece moved out and spent five months in a homeless unit before securing his own tenancy. Yet despite this change in living situation, he still found it difficult to cope.
"I went clubbing all the time, I drank, got into fights, got arrested... I was suicidal and didn't care what happened to me."
Reece secured an interview for Get into Retail, delivered in partnership with Tesco, that aims to give unemployed young people the skills and experience they need to find work in the retail sector.
"My head was all over the place the day of my interview with Nikki from The Trust. What would she think when she heard about my past, my convictions, my mental health? I thought she’d judge me, but she just accepted it and said it wasn’t about my past, it was about doing something to change my future."
"Getting that chance to change meant everything and after the course I got a job with Tesco and was then invited to be a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador."
Reece even went on to deliver a TEDx Talk in Glasgow – sharing his experiences with an audience of over 2,000 - as part of a special Year of Young People 2018 TEDx Youth event.
"I now see my career in mental health. I want to draw on my experiences to help others."
After completing a college course in Social Services and volunteering at a prison working with male prisoners, he is now in his second year of a Social Work degree at the University of Edinburgh. He has also contributed to think tank focus groups helping to inform the Scottish Government on issues such as mental health, poverty and violent crime.
Furthermore, Reece has worked with a Scottish Government policymaker for six months as part of the Poverty Trust Commission. During this time, he shared his own experiences with the justice system and police to help shape prison reforms and policies for the future. Currently as well as studying, Reece is working part-time as a Mungo Foundation support worker with adults with disabilities.