Chris' Story

I joined the Prince’s Trust Team Programme over four years ago, in Canterbury. I was really struggling to find a job, even though I was putting all of my efforts in to searching for one. I really wanted to find work in the retail sector, but I wasn’t getting anywhere, and I didn’t know what to do next.

I started the Team programme with several other young people from the Canterbury area. My main issue was my confidence – I was really shy, and found it hard to communicate with anyone. I had taken part in quite a few courses before Team, and nothing had helped me to come out of my shell. I quickly realised, though, that Team was different.

I don’t know whether it was being part of a close-knit team for 12 weeks and getting to know each other that helped bring me out of my shell, or the experiences that the programme gave me. Probably a combination of the two. We spent our first week at an outdoor residential centre doing team building exercises and activities that really put our confidence to the test. Team work and communication became really important, and we all learned so much without even realising it. Later in the programme, we planned a community project, painting and decorating a homeless shelter in Canterbury. The project required us to take on leadership roles, and work as a team. It really helped me to overcome the main barrier I had faced – my communication skills. As the programme went on, I became more confident, and was able to communicate better and better.

When it came to the work experience part of the programme, I was set up with two weeks’ work experience in the shop at Canterbury Cathedral, as at the time I really wanted a job in retail. The shop were so impressed that they asked me to stay on, and I worked for them for four weeks in total. It gave me a real boost in confidence and gave me valuable work experience to take forward. This, along with what I was taught about interview techniques and CV writing as part of the programme, really helped me to take the next steps towards getting a job after the programme finished.

After Team finished, I found work as a freelance gardener, before seeing an opportunity to work for South Eastern Rail, as one of the cleaning staff. When I went for the interview, I was offered the job on the spot. That was two and a half years ago now.

In my time at South Eastern, I have spent periods of time managing my shift when my team leader has been absent, and I’m now looking for an opportunity to move on within the company, to work as one of the platform staff, or as a conductor. The Prince’s Trust Team Programme, and the experiences it gave me, was a really important first step for me in building the confidence and communication skills to find employment. I wouldn’t be in the position I am without it.