School for me academically was never really a challenge, the theme of the majority of my school reports was extremely capable but needed to apply it to achieve my maximum potential, I excelled at sports and English, everything else was, in my teenage brain a bit of an inconvenience.
From the age of 14 onwards my main focus was my social life and friendship groups, I never really thought beyond the moment, partying was my thing.
Tensions grew at home as my partying lifestyle expanded, what I saw as overly strict parenting added to the problem, unable to keep to their rules and constantly pushing boundaries I found myself mixing in older circles and not returning home started to become a regular thing. By the age of 16 I decided that living on my own was my best option and I moved out.
I had initially tried further education and as a direct result of the lifestyle choices I was making I couldn’t make it work, removed from 6th form for poor attendance then continuing to start full-time college afterwards was just an attempt to pretend that things were ok, when in fact I was without any focus or direction.
The next four years of my life consisted of poor relationships, numerous house moves, working part time jobs, spells on benefits and 2 further attempts to re-enter education.
I was now well established as the ‘problem’ in my family. Whilst my sister and cousins were all away at university, I was just floating about my life waiting for the next opportunity to party, it became increasingly difficult for me to function as part of a family, my friends and associates had become the family I had chosen and kept choosing time and time again. Because I was mixing with people who were living the same lifestyle there was no accountability, I had no one to answer to.
When I reached my 21st birthday I was pretty much burnt out. Every part of my life was affected, my health, my relationships and my work were all casualties of how I was living, friends had come and gone, and, in all honesty, I was alone.
Ironically after being such a party girl the lowest point for me was my 21st birthday. I did a very awkward visit to my parent’s house where I was handed a token gift and a letter, handwritten from my mum detailing all her fears, pain and, heartbreakingly for me, her disappointment. It hit me that hard that I returned to my then bedsit and spent the night alone.
From then on, I did everything I could to try and better my life. Everyone was sceptical, the temptation to return to what I knew was strong but somehow, I managed to stick at it, I secured a full-time job and got into a positive relationship, 2 years later I bought my first home and 3 years later I became a mum.
I had to fall back in love with education and at 27 whilst working full time and with a toddler I finally went back.
This is where I started by career path in education, my own life experiences made it easy for me to relate to young people and more importantly I understood the barriers they faced and could give them the support and guidance they needed to overcome it.
I have now worked in education for almost 20 years with young people who face challenges. As an employee I have worked in both primary and secondary schools, I have managed an alternative provision for excluded and at risk of exclusion teenagers and also as an educator at a secure unit for young people held in custody between the ages of 11 and 18.
I have gone on to run my own successful projects and have worked with secondary schools, referral units and children’s services across the Northwest and North Wales as well as rehabilitation facilities for adults and community projects tackling long term unemployment and poverty.
When we initially set up Inspiring Your Future CIC we were motivated by the power of collaboration, sharing skill sets and drawing on peoples lived experiences and professional backgrounds to engineer lifelong positive changes for others.
I firmly believe that offering a collaborative, empathic, realistic approach to supporting the people in our communities to overcome their own barriers to success with programmes that offer advice, guidance and education is key to changing our communities and the people within them.