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'How The Prince’s Trust Changed My Life'

prince's trust women changed life
'How The Prince’s Trust Changed My Life'Hearst Owned

In a matter of hours King Charles III will be crowned in one of the most-talked about, prolific and gilded ceremonies in modern British history. On Saturday May 6, 2023, the King – previously known as the Prince of Wales for over seven decades – will become the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned at Westminster Abbey since 1066 during his coronation.

Like his family members before him, King Charles has been a keen advocate for improving the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK, and one of his most famous and well-known career highlights has been The Prince’s Trust.

The Trust, launched in 1976, was born on the back of the then-Prince using his Navy severance pay of £7,400 to fund a number of community initiatives at a time when the UK was suffering from record levels of unemployment and rising inflation. An impressive 21 pilot projects developed on the back of the funding, and formed the foundations of the Prince’s Trust’s initiatives.

Fast forward almost five decades and in September 2020 the Trust announced that it had supported more than one million young people nationwide. According to the organisation, three in four of those individuals the Trust has supported over the last five years have moved into work, education or training as a result of its commitment to enable more young people to create a better future for themselves. ‘By helping young people today, the benefits for them, their communities and the wider economy will be felt for years to come,’ its press release reads.

prince's trust
Sienna Miller, Rita Ora, Charlotte Tilbury, and Kate Moss arrive for the Prince’s Trust Gala in New York City in April 2023.ANDREA RENAULT - Getty Images

And yet, to this day, very little is widely known about the Trust’s efforts and reach in the wider UK community. Ask most people to describe the Trust’s work and you’ll likely hear vague talk of training and community work, without any real understanding of just how far-reaching and impactful its support, advice and funding can be to young individuals.

Ahead of the King’s Coronation, we spoke to four women and Prince’s Trust ambassadors who have transformed their lives with the help of the royal’s organisation:

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I grew up in Lincolnshire, Grantham and from an early age began helping my mum care for my nan, who was suffering from dementia. I loved caring for her, from making sure she had all of her pills laid out in order in the mornings to doing her weekly shop, and had my heart set on becoming a doctor. But as I got older I struggled with the pressure that came with academia and moving to a new Sixth Form College, so much so that I became unwell from stress and developed an eating disorder, which meant that I had to drop out of my studies before I finished my A Levels. Aged 18, I found myself out in the world without qualifications, and felt incredibly lost and isolated.

However, without the pressure of studying, I was able to get my health back on track, and found a job as a carer, going into people’s homes. The experience made me realised that so many people need more than basic care, such as washing and feeding, and need help with more day-to-day tasks, whether it's making a cup of tea or figuring out how their television works. I got the idea to start my own business Farrow Friends – a befriending service for the elderly – but didn’t know where to start. That’s where the Prince’s Trust came in.

I began the Trust’s Enterprise Programme in 2016, which helps young people between the ages of 18 and 30 explore how to start a business. It initially provides support through a short course that teaches you everything you need to know, from how to apply for grants and loans, and paying taxes, to finding a mentor, creating a business plan and building confidence. Through the Prince’s Trust I became a mentee to Linda Plant, Lord Sugar’s advisor on BBC One’s The Apprentice, who has been invaluable over the years in giving me support and advice.

Thanks to the Prince’s Trust's help I've been able to create a business with over 200 clients and employ a team of 30 carers who support elderly people in our community. We also run an initiative to help students from all over the country gain experience in caring, and we'll soon be launching a weekly podcast, Reminisce, which involves me interviewing some of our elderly clients and finding out more about their lives.

I want young people to know that there’s more to life and success than the qualifications you gain through the traditional academic system. The Prince’s Trust has opened so many doors for me and given me the confidence to believe that I can achieve anything.


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Hearst Owned

I’m the youngest of five siblings and grew up in a single parent household in Hackney, pre-gentrification. Since childhood I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, and have since been diagnosed as neurodivergent, with autism and ADHD. My mum was a carer for my grandmother when I was growing up, which took up a lot of her time. But this experience, coupled with my Caribbean-Antiguan heritage, instilled a passion in me to help others and has laid for the foundations of who I am today.

I began working in retail from the day I received my National Insurance number when I was 15. During my GCSE and A Level exams I worked anything between 20-30 hours a week, as well as caring for my mum who had developed a chronic illness. As a teen I dreamed of becoming a neurosurgeon and a lawyer, and fell in love with academia at university. However, I soon felt disenfranchised with my environment and the education system. Growing up in Hackney – a beautiful, diverse, and eclectic hub of a place – I hadn’t experienced the violent racism I faced at university, which ultimately burst my bubble of wanting to study for a PHD and continue with academia. I soon realised I wanted to dictate my life on my own terms, which is one of the reasons why I launched my business.

As a tall woman with large sized feet myself, I remember chatting to a non-binary friend of mine who also struggled to find size nine shoes. I decided that if no one else was going to cater for larger feet, then I would have to do it myself. In my spare time I began studying shoe design, with the dream of creating a brand that had inclusion and intersectionality at its core. And that’s how TSKENYA began – it’s a footwear company that's vegan, sustainable, and caters to foot sizes UK 8-13, and US 10-15.

During my studies I remember Googling ‘how to start a business’ and found the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme. Within a week I was booked onto a course focussed on entrepreneurship, and learned everything from cash flow to profit and loss. And the organisation has been supporting me ever since. Being left wing and growing up in a family that was anti-royalist, I had my own preconceived bias about the Trust. But after meeting people from the Prince’s Trust and finding out how much help they want to offer people, those notions have vanished. The individuals who work at the Trust have made a lifelong commitment to changing the lives of young people, regardless of your intersections, race, sexuality, or political ideology.


prince's trust
Hearst Owned

I had a pretty rough start to my life. My mum was disabled and I was a carer for her from the age of nine. Having struggled with instability at home and the lack of a support network, I went into residential care, aged 14, and ended up dropping out of school. I became pregnant at 16 and found myself living on my own without any qualifications. It was an incredibly daunting time, but thanks to the support of my ex partner’s parents who encouraged me to go back to school, I began thinking what my future could look like if I returned to education.

As I hit my 20s and had two more children, I found I had a bit more time to prioritise myself and had heard about the Prince’s Trust through a friend who had completed the Explorer programme. I applied for the Team course (a personal development, confidence and skill building programme) and was accepted for a 12-week course, which consisted of five days a week of teaching. The Prince’s Trust was incredible – it paid for my childcare and travel to ensure I could fulfil the course without facing a financial hit. Aged 23 and returning to a teaching environment was scary at first, but the second I stepped foot into the classroom with my fellow students those nerves disappeared. The course reminded me that I am intelligent and it helped me to rebuild my confidence. It also set up my volunteer work at the YMCA, where I work two days a week, and I’m now training to become a full-time youth worker.

It's depressing to admit this, but before I fell pregnant I didn’t think I'd live into adulthood. When you're lacking a stable environment around you, it’s hard to picture building one for yourself as you get older. But having my daughter made me want to live for something and fight to prove myself. The Prince’s Trust has given me the support I lacked for so long. I’ve got big goals, for myself and for my kids, and feel so excited for the future.


prince's trust
Hearst Owned

I grew up in an incredibly religious, conservative family. Before the pandemic I'd been on a missionary trip to Sri Lanka after years of struggling with mental health issues. But when I returned to the UK, those problems worsened and I found myself without a job and stuck at home. It's during this time I began to question my relationship with religion altogether and realised that religion wasn't so much a part of who I was, but had become my whole identity.

During this time of self-realisation in lockdown I'd started an art business and was selling paintings on Etsy, which inspired me to find a mentor who could help me get a career in a creative industry. A quick Google search presented the Prince’s Trust’s website and I opened its chat box to find out some more information about its courses and mentorship schemes. However, around this time I’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, so the thought of a phone call with someone from the Prince’s Trust, let alone a Zoom chat, terrified me. But they were incredibly understanding and helped to guide me through the process to complete the organisation’s Get Started in Product Design programme in February 2021.

Three months after taking part in the programme I was chosen to be part of the Trust's product design course with Marvel, which was a huge eye-opener. I still can't believe I get to see products on shelves in shops that I helped create. Disney has since called some of us back to take part in further opportunities. The whole experience has gone full circle, and last year I found the confidence to deliver a speech during the Prince’s Trust Awards about Disney. I’ve gone from being a shy young person to being on stage presenting in front of thousands of people.

Confidence is so vital, but it's a skill you can't really learn in a school setting. No one teaches you how to develop the confidence to apply for a job or understand your worth. But the Prince’s Trust has given me the confidence to believe I’m able to achieve anything I set my mine to. And its support doesn’t end when the courses finish, rather its mentors continue to check in with you and provide advice. Without the Prince’s Trust I wouldn’t have gone to therapy or found a job in a media and marketing firm. The Prince’s Trust is a shiny golden ticket for anyone feeling stuck in life and wanting a change.

Further information about The Prince’s Trust is available at princes-trust.org.uk or on 0800 842 842.


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