On the right track

Kent Life - - Bright Young Thing - WORDS: Sarah Sturt PHOTO: Manu Palomeque

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.


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.

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