At 18 years old, I joined the first Prince’s Trust Team Programme in Canterbury. I was looking for work, and guided towards the scheme by an adviser at the Job Centre. When I looked into it, I felt the programme could help me to build skills and confidence, and provide me with some valuable work experience that might help me to take some positive next steps. At the time, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do for a career, so thought I’d give it a go, hoping that the Team Programme would help give me some direction.
I wasn’t disappointed. For the second week of the programme we went away on a residential trip to an outdoor activity centre, where we took part in extreme and challenging outdoor activities that pushed us to our limits. We found ourselves taking part in activities that we never thought we would have the ability to complete, and proved to ourselves that we could do it. It really helped to build our confidence.
While we were away, I realised that I wanted to cook every night, that I had a passion for cooking. When later in the programme, we sourced work experience opportunities tailored to our area of interest, I chose catering, and spent two weeks working in the kitchen of Canterbury Cathedral Hotel Lodge.
Later in the programme we spent two weeks designing and delivering a community project. This required us to work as a team, to be creative, organised, and develop a whole load of other skills. I found myself taking on a leadership role. I had never thought of myself as a natural leader, but I became one.
Straight after the programme, I secured an apprenticeship with Canterbury College, and benefitted from work placements at Burger Brothers in Whitstable and in the kitchen at Simon Langton Girls School. On finishing my apprenticeship, I went on to work at Whitstable restaurant, The Oxford, before moving on to take a position working in the kitchen at The Sanctuary Group’s Canterbury care home.
Now, at 23, I am currently the company’s youngest head chef in the country, and manage a team of five.
The Prince’s Trust Team Programme was a really important first step for me in identifying what I wanted to do in my career, and helping me to build valuable and relevant experience and confidence to move on in that field.