February 3rd 2014 saw me jump into the deep end and join the Princes Trust Team Development Programme. After going through tough times in life and being new to my hostel after being homeless, my key worker was determined I went onto the three month course to build up my confidence and control my anxiety. (See GAD post here)

I joined a programme where I wouldn't know anyone and had to travel alone everyday for 12 weeks to the Hackney Center, in order to complete the course. During my journey I had many set backs which led me having to pick myself up again and push forward. I completed the programme on the 24th April and can honestly say I feel like a new person. Being able to travel alone and with new knowledge that I have techniques to control some parts of my anxiety helps lift the weight off my shoulders. So your probably wondering what the 12 weeks entailed. Well sit back relax and grab a snack because this is going to be a long one.

My Princes Trust Team Programme consisted of a group of people from the ages of 17 to 25, each week as a group we are faced challenges and targets to meet. Here is a breakdown of the twelve weeks.
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Week 1
During week one of the team programme of the Hackney Center the group is introduced to each other through a variety of warm up games, ice breakers and trust games, This week was a pretty relaxed week for all of us, as it was the chance for us to get to know one another before the big residential.
Week 2
I know this may sound scary but week two, saw the whole group travel down to Dartmoor in Devon for the whole week. Living with strangers who you don't know, working in a team to complete tasks and sleeping in a cold room with 4 other girls can seem quiet daunting, especially for me with absolutely no self esteem. I had no idea why these people was on the course, what they're backgrounds were or what they had to gain from the programme. I'm not making this sound very fun, but these were my exact thoughts at the time, knowing that I would be stuck on a coach with people I don't know and my travel sickness for hours and hours, to then spend a whole week with them in a cottage in the middle of nowhere in the Dartmoor marshes with no telephone reception, no tv just us...

The whole week flew by so quickly, but I must admit I would do it again. The week consisted of team building exercises, as well as some some of us facing our biggest fears. We learnt how to navigate in the Dartmoor forest (which reminded me of River-dale from Lord of the Rings) see Dartmoor ponies, read compasses and maps. Abseil almost 100 feet over a bridge. Complete night trails. Hike for miles in treacherous weather of winds up to 60miles per hour with hail and rain. All leading up to our final challenge of rock-climbing, abseiling, navigation, hiking and everything else that we had learnt as a team during the week. It was actually one of the funnest weeks of my life and one of the most memorable, not only for the fun activities but for each person being able to open up to each other about our lives past and present, our fears our dreams and our futures. We became a little princes trust family  
Week 3- 6
As a team we had to find a worthy project to help the community, this consisted of us fundraising money to help the cause, researching companies, organisation, allocated roles, and teamwork. We decided to help a local housing association called 'Stonewall Housing' a LGBT housing group, and help them renovate and decorate their hostels. By repainting/redecorating, part furnishing their lounge and kitchen as well as renovating one of their gardens. The team was able to raise almost £600 with our cake sale at Excel in which we used all the earnings to buy the required tools and equipment needed to paint, decorate, buy gardening equipment, patio table and chairs and much needed plants.
Week 7-8
I was able to plan my own work experience, as week seven and eight gives you the chance for your team leader and colleagues to find suitable work placements catered to your desired field of work. During our meeting with Stonewall to propose our plan to fundraise and help a cause (in week 3-6), I was able to secure a work placement the same day with Stonewall to help in their hostels. For the two weeks I was able to attend a Bi-sexuality awareness training as well as domestic violence training. I shadowed two support workers from Stonewall who opened me up to the life of a support worker and how each day is different to the next. I was even able to learn about the re-homing service and referral processes for the homeless men and women.
Week 9
By this stage their was less people in the group unfortunately people had left or were told to leave for whatever reasons. Week 9 we was able to refresh our cvs and put our new work experience on to them. We also had the chance to visit the charted insurance institute who gave us interview techniques. The team and I were able to visit organisations and companies such as the Royal London Hospital to speak about pathways jobs and was given the chance to explore the helipad and helicopters. The week also saw us work on our self esteem and the media with the NHS and learn about sexual health. As well as a talk with my bank about finances.
Week 10-11
This was the time where the team and I had to research and plan another two weeks of helping people help themselves in the community. We fundraised money by selling cakes and sweet treats to the Princes Trust Offices, Corporate Companies and by selling our own business in which I was able to sell fairtrade chocolate at £3 each to friends and family. We also raised money by having a jumble sale open to the public.

Our first week we used our money to buy all the necessary sports equipment, food and refreshments, easter eggs, arts and crafts for Young Hackney a Youth Center based in Hackney and planned a fun day for children from 5- 17. The children were able to indulge in basketball, football, rounders, arts and crafts, and Easter egg hunts. The most behaved children was rewarded their own eggs for good behaviour. Donating all the equipment to Young Hackney in which they gave us all t-shirts to show their gratitude.

The second week we was able to help out with the Hackney food Bank. We used our fundraising money of almost £100 to buy food from Tesco and donate it to the food-bank, and then the next day help with the organisation and process at the food-bank itself, speaking to the people who came throughout the day and serving them tea or coffee.
Week 12
Our final week saw us preparing for our final speeches and completing our progress folders in which has to be sent off to head-office in order for us to receive our certificates.
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There is so much more that I am missing from this breakdown of three months, such as being able to compete in a debating match on young unemployment and antisocial behaviour and rewarded certificates.
Before & After
Before the Princes Trust I was suffering with depression taking anti depressants and struggling with my anxiety. I used to hide behind makeup due to my low self esteem and didn't travel alone for over 4 years. The Trust enabled me to trust individuals and gain some confidence about myself and the world that we live in. No longer on anti-depressants and not having a panic attack since April 2014 I see that as a very big positive change. I even have learnt to not only go out alone to the shops and back or to uni but also to go outside with no makeup on.

Even during my time with the Trust and my team, I had many set backs due to my anxiety flaring up constantly hyperventilating and distress. I was able to push through which I believe is my biggest achievement. Even though something may happen to trigger my attacks I will be ok and I can get back up again. Going backwards and having blips are not the worst things in the world.

Since the trust has finished it has enabled me to become a bit of a social butterfly, joining my hostels residents panel as well as taking charge of monthly girls night for the ladies of my hostel. I am able to attend a lot more blogger events instead of declining them due to fear of panic attacks and anxiety.

My friends, family, key workers and team saw a new me, one with a new found confidence. Even winning the most developed team member voted for by my own team. I'm also being put forward by my team leader for the Princes Trust Breakthrough award.

And it doesn't just stop there. In the final weeks of my team programme, I applied to become a Princes Trust Young Ambassador, representing the trust and telling my story of how it can help young people. And I can officially say you are reading the writings of a Princes Trust Young Ambassador.



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