A South Yorkshire woman whose life was transformed by a fire and police led youth programme has met TV talent show stars.
Leanne Blakey aged 21, from Mexborough, has become a Young Ambassador for Prince’s Trust after hailing the impact its 12 week Team Programme has had on her confidence, skills and employment chances.
Leanne has overcome numerous difficulties in her life, including periods of homelessness, enduring difficult relationships and facing mental health problems.
She found out about the Dearne fire station based Prince’s Trust Team Programme through her job centre. She quickly developed her confidence, becoming closer with the other young people on the scheme and eventually felt able to share her story for the first time. Since completing the programme, she has gone on to secure a job as a carer for children and people with learning disabilities.
She told her inspirational story at a fundraising event, prompting a kind-hearted guest to gift their auction prize of a trip to The Voice final in London to Leanne and her friend.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s Prince’s Trust Team Leader John Daley, said: “The first time I met Leanne she was quiet and very reserved. We immediately knew we needed her on our programme and that there was something there that needed to be brought out.
“We knew she had a spark and she would be an integral and important part of the team. Within the first week we saw that she was highly strung, but again this was outweighed by her ability to talk to others and her level of empathy was astounding. Throughout the programme we nurtured and helped Leanne knowing that when she completed the programme she would be in a far better place.
“At the final presentation Leanne reduced the entire audience to tears when addressing them and giving the reasons she came on the programme – how she was suffering with mental health issues due to multiple traumatic life events that happened between the ages of 14 – 19. She talked about her past and she told the audience how the programme had given her the strength to talk about her past and face it.”
“I feel proud to have been a small part of this personal growth and honestly believe that without this programme and the work the Prince’s Trust is doing, Leanne would have been lost in the system. She is now a beacon to other young people who have been through the same traumas as her. Young people can see there is hope and there are people who are willing to help.”
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and South Yorkshire Police teamed up with the Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme more than two years ago. During that time around 150 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 firstname.lastname@example.org