The Prince’s Trust awards recognise young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.
Joanna scooped the Homesense Young Achiever Award, recognising a young person who has overcome significant barriers to become an inspirational role model.
Joanna suffered with her mental health for almost 10 years before making the decision to reach out to The Prince’s Trust.
She is now progressing in her career and inspiring other young people in her role as a Young Ambassador.
At age 15, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, which disrupted her education, and she finished school with just three GCSEs.
Over the next couple of years, she was in and out of hospital, and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Owing to her lack of qualifications, Joanna didn’t feel as though she would be able to get a meaningful job and she felt completely hopeless and lost her confidence.
But during her final months of admission, she decided to give recovery one last go and researched The Prince’s Trust, applying after she was discharged.
She did the Team programme, a twelve-week self-development course, in 2018 with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Speaking to I Love Manchester, Joanna talked about her experience.
She said: “The support I received at The Trust was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life.
“My Team leaders were able to recognise my individual needs and I felt valued and listened to. They helped me adapt to the ‘real world’ outside of hospital and offered practical and emotional help.
“I started Team as someone who was afraid to speak up, had no confidence and was scared to do anything. I finished the programme with a new-found confidence, a willingness to succeed and a genuine belief that I could get better and live a happy life.”
Whilst on the Team programme, Joanna undertook a two-week work experience with N Brown, a clothing, footwear, and homewares digital retailer, and afterwards she was taken on permanently in the buying team.
Almost four years on, Joanna is still working full time and has gone from an admin assistant to a Junior Buyer.
In the future, she would like to continue progressing in her career as well as making the most out of her life.
Joanna is no longer under any services; she is now off all medication and has been completely free of self-harm for years.
Following completion of the Team programme, Joanna became a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust.
During her time as a Young Ambassador, she represented The Trust at numerous events both locally and nationally and raised the profile of both The Trust and the challenges of poor mental health.
Ashley Clinton, Team leader at Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, said “Joanna is an exceptional individual who used the Team programme as a platform to realise and develop opportunities that are truly life changing.”
And the experience has really been life changing for Joanna.
She continued: “The Team programme completely transformed me and set me on a new path.
“I am incredibly thankful to The Prince’s Trust for all the support they have given me throughout my journey and I’m proud to be able to share my story to raise awareness around mental health.
“Winning the Young Achiever Award is something I never expected!”