Two Peterborough teenagers were honoured at a royal award ceremony after turning their lives around.
The Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards recognises young people who have struggled through unimaginable difficulties to transform their lives.
The Trust was founded by Prince Charles in 1976.
And at the ceremony in Stevenage on Wednesday (November 11) Umesh Narshi (19) won the Konica Minolta Young Ambassador of the Year Award.
Umesh experienced several difficult years as a teenager, characterised by expulsion from school, gangs, crime and homelessness. His court appearances and run-ins with the police meant that his dream of becoming a Royal Marine looked impossible.
With his world crumbling around him, Umesh’s turning point came when he was allowed to return to the family home. Looking for a second chance, he joined The Prince’s Trust Team programme, a 12-week personal development course that helps unemployed young people gain the skills and confidence to find work.
Umesh said: “Quite simply, my life changed from there. I was listened to by the team, my confidence started to grow, and when I was offered a placement at the Marriott Hotel I knew I had to grab it with both hands.”
So impressed were the management at the hotel that Umesh was offered a role as a leisure assistant. In 2013 he also won the regional Prince’s Trust Breakthrough Award and was invited to become a Young Ambassador.
Umesh said: “There is no doubt that The Prince’s Trust has changed my life forever. With that little bit of belief and help from others it is amazing what you can achieve.
“If I can turn my life around then anyone can, and that’s what I want to use my role as a Young Ambassador to say.
“Since taking on the role I’ve seen my confidence rocket. I’ve developed as a person, met people I’d never normally have the chance to meet and I now know that I’m capable of achieving greater things.”
On winning his award Umesh added: “It feels amazing for all the hard work to be recognised. My experience with The Trust has changed my life and these memories will stay with me forever.”
Neil Dingley, Konica Minolta managing director, said: “I’d like to congratulate Umesh for winning the Konica Young Ambassador of the Year Award. He is a truly inspirational Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust and I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Stacey Allpress was also named runner-up at the ceremony for the Samsung Young Achiever Award.
Although Stacey (18) from Walton had good GCSEs and a place at college on a childcare course, her home life was exceptionally difficult, which affected her ability to do well at college.
With her confidence and self-esteem at an all-time low, she then left college, but at a Young People’s Work Club she heard about The Prince’s Trust Team programme. And, although she was initially reluctant, Stacey soon started to respond.
She said: “All I wanted was a job, and so the thought of 12 weeks on a course seemed pointless. Things soon changed though, and I started to feel valued and respected, with a real sense of purpose. All of the staff took the time to listen to me and pointed me in the right direction.”
After the programme Stacey secured a six-month administration placement at Cross Keys Homes, which then led to the permanent position she holds now. The Trust also helped Stacey to find a tenancy, and she is now enjoying her independence.
Stacey added: “My life totally changed through doing Team. I now have a safe place to live and a full time job that I love and I have control over my own life. I honestly don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t pushed myself to do the course.”