It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this
I wish We Rise had been around when I was a teenager as they would have made a difference.
This is my story.
I’m 23 years old. I’ve graduated from university. I’m homeless and broke with no idea what to do next. I’m stuck in a job I’m overqualified for, earning £8.53 an hour and trying to clear my graduate overdraft. I’m not even thinking about the £55k of student debt that keeps on growing. I just hope my most recent job application will be successful.
University is the key to launching yourself into success, or so I was told throughout my primary and secondary school.
If only I knew then what I know now.
Life was tough for us
As a young child I was seen as ‘dreamy’. Diagnosed with dyslexia at 9 I was underestimated a lot at primary school. Despite beating the top set children in a maths challenge at 10 I was placed in the lowest sets. It made me feel I was stupid. I could see I was put at the bottom along with other mixed race and black children. I later found out I had ADHD but I wasn’t assessed until I was 17.
My father passed away when I was 12. This was a massive shock and left my mum alone with four children and struggling with debt. Our family moved back to London and, as the eldest, I helped my mum raise my three younger siblings. We were overcrowded, five of us in a 2 bedroom flat in Brixton for eight years. My mum slept every night on the sofa as there wasn’t space for a bed.
I was always very creative and loved painting. My teachers said I had ability and talent. My dyslexia made me creative but I often found solutions no-one else could see. But I found it hard to be focussed and organised. I started at Dunraven in year 8. I worked hard, got support with my dyslexia and did well in my GCSE’s. Amazingly, I gained 12 GCSEs at grade C-A*.
Academic study was hard for me
Things got tough after that. A levels were very academic and there was no support for my dyslexia. I struggled to get my A levels and decided to follow what I enjoyed. With little advice, I picked a foundation course in Art and Design at the University of the Creative Arts in Epsom. I then applied to Nottingham Trent University to study a BA in Fashion Design.
University was really hard. My time in Nottingham was possibly the worst 3 years of my life. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I had begun to suffer from depression and social anxiety and it became more difficult to manage.
Every holiday I worked at SuperDry in Westfield so I wasn’t able to work on my projects or get extra work experience – if I had known this was something I needed.
The course was oversubscribed so only the most confident students got support from the tutors and help from technicians with our final show. But I stuck at it and put on a final show.
It’s been over a year now since I completed my degree
I still work at the same retail job I got during university. I am constantly on the look-out for something better, but without connections to help me get a foot in the door I feel stuck
What would have helped me?
Growing up we are sold a dream that finding a career is simple. Go to university, get a degree, get a well paid job, move out and succeed.
It’s not like that. Young people like me need help.
So what would have helped me?
I wish I had met more people who could have guided me when I was young.
- I wish I’d had opportunities to explore what industry and role would suit me best.
- I wish I’d had the chance to meet people in different jobs and learn from them.
- I wish that I had been able to attend events where I could find out what experience and qualifications are required.
- I wish I had been able to have more work experience.
I wish I’d had We Rise.