A brave Rotherham teen who overcame bereavement and surgery to complete a fire and police led youth course, has credited the scheme with turning his life around.
Jake Richardson, aged 18, from Maltby has just landed his dream job as a fitter with transport giants Stagecoach after completing the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, led by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police.
Jake’s stunning achievement followed a desperate few months, as he struggled to deal with the loss of his beloved grandmother who sadly passed away and a burst appendix which needed major surgery. Both events occurred whilst he was taking part in the 12-week programme which is designed to boost the life chances and employability of 16-25 year olds.
Jake said: “My life took a dramatic change at around eight years old as my stepdad, who had been in my life for most of that time, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alongside my mum being disabled, this meant I had to grow up and be more mature from a very young age.
“Caring for my parents did take my childhood away from me as I never really had many friends in school and I was always at home caring for my family. I felt isolated from a young age. We still did things as a family, but it sometimes felt like my experience wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. Not that I would change my childhood, as it has made me the young adult I am today.
“My early problems meant that I often had a short temper, which in turn made school difficult. All of my attention was on my family and not on the lessons I was in. I failed all my subjects, even though I now see what my focus should have been on. If I could go back to school and re-do everything I would.
“After I finished school my life started to get better. I went to college and studied motor vehicle service and repairs Level 2 which I passed with a merit. I planned to do level 3, but I failed my Maths and English for a second time, which really affected my confidence.
“One of my friends then got me a job in the shop where he works, but the role just consisted of stacking shelves day after day. I hated it, it wasn’t for me. But then I got a new chance with my future, all thanks to the Prince’s Trust Team Programme which I heard about through my girlfriend’s dad.
“So I came for the interview where I first met the course leader, John Daley, who gave me a tour of the fire station where it is based and explained what would be happening during the course. I knew this course would help me with my professional career.
“The Prince’s Trust course was the greatest experience of my life and it gave me more confidence and enthusiasm for learning. The course included a work placement with Stagecoach in Rawmarsh, where I carried out tasks such as servicing, changing interior lights and steam cleaning. It was easily my favourite part of the course.
“But then my entire world was ripped from underneath me as during the placement, my grandma sadly passed away. She was my inspiration in life. Her death destroyed me and it felt like my whole world had just stopped with no warning. It knocked me back to rock bottom, my confidence was gone and I was getting ready to quit the course and just be on my own. But I decided to continue with the course to make my grandma proud. I know she would be proud of me now.
“This all followed surgery on my appendix, which had to be removed during week 5 of the course. They had burst and risked poisoning my blood. But I was determined to continue with the community project because I didn’t want to let my Princes Trust team leaders and other team members down. So I went into hospital on the Friday and then was back with the team on the Monday.
“I am so grateful to Prince’s Trust Team Programme for allowing me to have this great opportunity, and especially to our team leaders John Daley and Rhian Oxley for everything they have done for me on the course. Without their support I never could have completed it.”
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme two years ago. During that time around 100 young people have benefited from the 12 week personal development course for unemployed 16 – 25 year olds, offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.
The courses are based at fire stations and are the only programmes of their type in the country to be jointly delivered by fire and police services. For more information or to sign-up, email email@example.com