AN Ilkeston teenager has given her backing to a Prince’s Trust club in Kirk Hallam which helped put her life back on track.
Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Hunt was aged just 13 when her mother died, leading to problems at school.
She lost confidence and was also frightened of losing her father, who was struggling with health issues and having to make regular hospital visits.
The kind-hearted teenager took it upon herself to help look after her younger sisters by helping to cook tea and get them ready for bed, but her own life was in turmoil.
A new report out this week warns young people growing up without a daily routine of structure such as regular bedtimes and set meal times are more likely to struggle at school and face lower self-confidence – a conclusion Charlotte can relate to.
Charlotte said: “I found school difficult because I had other things to worry about.
“I was predicted to get F’s in my GCSEs and I didn’t have many friends at this time either which made things very hard for me.”
The Prince’s Trust Youth Index reveals how more than one in ten young people in the East Midlands feel their days lacked structure and direction while growing up.
It also shows how more than one in three young people across the East Midlands ‘always or often’ feel down or depressed, while more than half feel stressed all or most of the time.
The research reveals that those with fewer than five A*-C grade GCSEs are significantly more likely to feel this way.
For Charlotte, her dad and teachers were so worried about her they referred to The Prince’s Trust’s xl programme in Kirk Hallam.
The programme helps young people at risk of underachievement or exclusion from school.
As part of the xl club, Charlotte took part in activities to improve her confidence, motivation and communication skills, helping her to re-engage with education.
Within months Charlotte’s grades were improving and her confidence was growing.
She also won awards on the programme and successfully completed a work experience placement to boost her job prospects.
Charlotte recalls: “I was a little bit worried about joining the xl club at first but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I enjoyed every second and started to feel much happier about things. The support of my teachers really helped me and as a result my schoolwork started to improve.”
By the time she was 16, Charlotte was working so hard that she was on target to get her GCSEs.
Last summer, she opened her results to find that she had passed her exams and had an offer of attending college.
Charlotte said: “I was really proud of myself. It was a huge achievement to get my GCSEs and it was a big deal for someone like me who had expected to leave school with nothing.”
Charlotte now attends Ilkeston Sixth Form College where she is studying business and work skills.
Next year she hopes to progress onto a childcare course so she can eventually work with other disadvantaged young people.
She added: “I don’t think I’d be where I am today without The Prince’s Trust xl club.
“I feel a lot more confident about my future now.
“The Prince’s Trust helped me to become much more confident and believe in myself. I’ve done things I didn’t think were possible, and have a much brighter future ahead of me.”
John O’Reilly, regional director of The Prince’s Trust in the East Midlands, says: “We know from our work with young people in Ilkeston that the absence of structure and routine in a young life can have a devastating impact.
“Without the right support, directionless teenagers can become lost young adults – unconfident, under-qualified and unemployed.
“Our programmes, which include in-school xl clubs, give the hardest-to-reach young people intense, structured support – helping to prevent potential drop-outs and exclusions.”
For more information about the work of the Prince’s Trust call 0800 842 842 or visit www.princes-trust.org.uk.