On the right track
Teenager John Clarkson on the lifeline the
Young Lives Foundation has given him
Tell us a bit about you
My name is John Clarkson, I am 16, and I live in Rainham with my foster family.
I have lived with my foster family for seven years, but I also have a big family of six brothers and five sisters who live elsewhere.
I didn’t really enjoy school that much because other young people used to ask so many questions about what it was like being in care. Sometimes this could be a positive thing, and then at other times it could be difficult to cope with when people know you don’t live with your parents.
I started going off track a little but was introduced to the Young Lives Foundation, who provided me with an Independent Visitor (IV), a volunteer who was always by my side, there for me to talk to and to support me; they boosted my confidence, made me laugh and I had someone I could trust.
After a while, my IV asked me if I would like to join the activity groups at YLF. So I thought why not!? This got me involved in with activities like go karting, and their summer BBQ. I really enjoyed being part of YLF and it gave me lots of new opportunities.
Last year, after finishing my GCSEs, I saw that YLF put out an Apprenticeship opportunity. With my own experiences, I knew that I wanted to try for it to gain confidence and help others by making a difference.
What happened next?
In August 2018 I was really pleased to become the new Participation Apprentice at YLF. This was a huge achievement for me! I wanted to be able to share my story and experiences of being in care with others and show young people that although they may be facing hard situations, they are not alone and that we can support each other.
My main role is to run the MCYPC (Medway Children Young People’s Council); this is a council formed of young people in care and care leavers. I represent more than 400 young people and our aim is to get their voices listened to by professionals to make sure that the support young people are given really meets their needs.
MCYPC is trying to challenge the stigma that society attaches to young people in care and help others to have a better understanding that all young people want to be treated the same. As part of my Apprenticeship I am also completing a NVQ Level 2 in Business and Administration, which I hope will extend my skills ready for my next career step. It’s an exciting time for me!
Your ambitions for the future? My ambitions for the future are to make sure that young people in care and those leaving care have all the support they need when they need it.
I would like to be able to support MCYPC to really change the stigma attached to young people and create a better experience for all young people in care. My personal ambitions are to pass my driving test, have a nice home of my own, eventually have a family and most of all a good career. I want to be successful.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In a year’s time I will have completed my NVQ Level 2 and hopefully will be able to extend my apprenticeship at YLF to complete Level 3. I am really excited that there are so many options open to me at the moment for my future career. I have considered joining Kent Police. In five years’ time I hope that I will have started in my chosen career.
Any hobbies and interests?
I’m quite active so most of my interests and hobbies are sporty. I play football, I train mid-week and have matches on Sundays. I also like boxing and riding my pit bike. I have to be honest, one of my main interests is food! I love eating out and socialising. I’m not so great at cooking though; cooking can be stressful!
What music do you like?
I like all different types of music and my favourite artists at the moment are Bugzy Malone, Lewis Capaldi, Dave and Eminem.
FIND OUT MORE
If you would like to find out more about The Young Lives Foundation, please call 01622 693459, email en[email protected] uk or visit: ylf.org.uk
Are you or do you know a highachieving Bright Young Thing who is under the age of 25 and lives in Kent? If so, please get in touch with Sarah Sturt, edi[email protected]chant.co.uk or call her on 07809 551221.