On the course, I began to feel like this place was different. The 1-to-1 sessions and goal setting made me see my problems in a completely different way. I felt I could be heard and not judged for the first time. The course taught me how to socialise with others again, and how to make the changes I needed in my life to succeed.Jamie WattonNWRC student
Jamie Watton says he has turned his life around after attending the Princes Trust Team programme at North West Regional College (NWRC), and now he’s encouraging other young people to do the same.
When Jamie first came to the Team, it was clear he had a lot on his plate. He had a particularly challenging time at school, his mental health was deteriorating, and he felt like all aspects of his world were spiralling out of control.
Fast forward a year and Jamie’s now in employment and recently was the winner of the Princes Trust Young Changemaker Award — recognising young people who are inspiring others through their personal experience of turning their lives around, and the Marvel Rising Star Award, acknowledging those who have overcome barriers and are now in sustainable employment.
Jamie said: “I spent the first 17 years of my life acting out and feeling so confused about myself, questioning why I was the way I was. I have Asperger Syndrome, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I got my diagnosis. After I received my diagnosis, I began to understand myself so much better.”
Growing up, Jamie often acted out and became disengaged. He was in pursuit of a male role model, however admittedly he often turned to the wrong people, leading Jamie to drugs and at one point he attempted to take his own life.
He said: “My relationships with others were deteriorating and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Things were spiralling out of control in so many aspects of my world. I had no idea what to expect from The Prince’s Trust but had nothing to lose.
“On the course, I began to feel like this place was different. The 1-to-1 sessions and goal setting made me see my problems in a completely different way. I felt I could be heard and not judged for the first time. The course taught me how to socialise with others again, and how to make the changes I needed in my life to succeed.”
Through the community project, Jamie found a passion for helping others and began volunteering with a group that helps adults with physical and learning disabilities. He received a glowing reference and continued to volunteer over the summer, taking the group on day trips and supported their wellbeing. The experience led Jamie to explore this work as a career option and enrol onto a health and social care course at college. He has also gone on to receive paid work doing what he loves at Limavady Community Development Initiative and recently secured a job with Fairways who also support people with learning disabilities.
Jamie now freely talks about his experience of Asperger Syndrome and wants others to see that they don't have to be held back by it.
He continued: “Sometimes the kids that need the most love, ask for it in the most unloving ways. I want other young people to know that they can overcome anything, it all depends on how you see things.
"One day I would love to be able to offer a service that enables young people and adults with learning or physical disabilities to have a place where they can belong.
“I’d encourage other young people in a similar position to me to give the Team programme a go – you won’t regret it.”
The new Princes Trust Team programme starts on September 19 at both Strand Road and Limavady campus. Enrolment is now open. For more information contact the Facebook page Prince’s Trust Team Northwest NI, OR contact Sean Curran (Team Leader, Strand Road campus) on 07794215217 firstname.lastname@example.org or Denis McLaughlin (Team Leader, Limavady campus) on 07527389281 email@example.com