It was an occupational therapist in hospital who recommended that Sephora first get in touch with The Prince’s Trust.

“I was on a mental-health ward in hospital and was on the cusp of turning 18. My occupational therapist didn’t want me to be transferred to the adult ward and was searching for something I could do. She had noticed that some of the other patients and I would spend time experimenting with beauty and enjoyed the self-care aspect. She thought The Prince’s Trust would be a safe place for me and recommended I go on the Get started with make-up programme.

When I started the programme, I had only just been discharged from hospital, was on medication and was feeling vulnerable. On my first day on the programme, I had a panic attack but one of the staff members calmed me down. No one was freaked out by it and I wasn’t made to feel weird. They made me feel so comfortable. Teresa, the programme leader, really helped me to understand The Prince’s Trust and helped me build up my self-confidence. The course itself was amazing too and I’m still friends with some of the people I met there.

Sephora then went on the Fairbridge programme, which she quickly followed with going on the Team programme.

“Fairbridge gave me the skills to help improve my mental health. I was struggling to manage my feelings – I would shout and be aggressive when I was upset – but our leader, Liam, taught me how to channel my emotions in a different way. I made wonderful friends on Fairbridge. Growing up in Tottenham, so many people I met had the same aggressive mental attitude and many of us were headed down a dark path. Meeting people from different backgrounds on Fairbridge was so good for me and we forged a positive new path together.

“I never thought I’d be out in the wilderness, rock-climbing, abseiling and doing the adventurous things you do on the residential. The programme gave me a childhood I never had. There were times when I felt I couldn’t overcome the challenges we were set but I’ve never felt so happy. I truly felt like the Trust was there for us and that staff would take time out of their day to help. I really transformed and learnt about myself on Fairbridge. I realised how capable I am.

When I went on the Team programme, I felt I could speak about my feelings in front of strangers which I’d never been able to do before. Team gave me discipline and routine which has helped me now that I’m back at college. In secondary school, I had low attendance. Now I’m going into college every day and doing my work. Without Team, I wouldn’t be back studying. I had amazing teammates too - we still meet up and go for dinner. I love seeing how well they’re all doing now.

“We also did work experience with the police which was life changing. In Tottenham, there’s an ‘us versus them’ mentality when it comes to the police. I’d seen so many people get arrested and didn’t feel like the police were there to protect us. However, during work experience, I saw the people behind the uniform for the first time. They seemed human to me and were helpful in explaining the route I’d have to take to become a detective.

“I’ve been studying social sciences in college and recently found out that I’ve been accepted into Durham University to study Criminology. My dad is very proud. My life has completely turned around. Eventually, I want to become a detective – a desire which stems from something that I experienced when I was younger. On prom night, my date was stabbed. I remember being in hospital with him afterwards and his mum didn’t talk to anyone. The only time she said anything was when she thanked the detectives for promising to help find out who attacked her son. I saw the hope in her eyes. I want to be that hope and give closure to families. Unfortunately, my friend passed away. I feel like I’m pursuing my dream of becoming a detective for my friend and for his mum too.

The Prince’s Trust has helped me to see a new way of life. They changed my perspective. I had given up but The Trust made me want to make a change.

Sephora is also Grade 9 on the cello, which she has played since she was in year 4.

“I love it. The cello was my coping mechanism. I play when I’m sad or angry and it helps me get my emotions out.

“Small things make me happy these days. For example, even though most of my classmates at college were moaning about having to write a personal statement but I loved writing mine! I just never thought I’d be writing one. I also get so excited about the opportunities I’m offered as a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador. I’m so happy with life right now.”

During the pandemic, Sephora has been living at home with her family. She has enjoyed time to rest and prepare for university, after the past few years have been so busy.

“I’ve really enjoyed spending time with my family especially before I leave for university in Durham. I am waking up every day and enjoying life. I’m nervous about going to university, but so excited. I’m just so grateful for the help that I got at the right time. I have so much to look forward to now.”