‘Prince’s Trust helped me turn my life around’

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith

A former drug addict has told how a charity helped him to his ‘absolute mess’ of a life around.

Matthew Smith, 22, credits the Prince’s Trust with helping him get back on track and into work.

The young people taken on by M&S

The young people taken on by M&S

Despite leaving school with good qualifications, he said he got into trouble after leaving home.

Unable to cope with his new-found freedom he started drinking and taking drugs. He lost his job as an apprentice web designer and was kicked out of his flat.

“My life was an absolute mess”, he said.

His struggles continued when he moved back home but his Jobcentre advisor helped him get accepted on the Prince’s Trust’s Get Into programme with Marks and Spencer.

He said: “It was strange, the night before I was going to start, I sat looking at a bottle of cider, and just didn’t want it. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to do something well.

“Before The Prince’s Trust, my life was free-falling into a very dark and lonely place. Now, finally, it’s like I’ve floated back up, gradually surfacing and being engulfed in sunshine.”

Matthew, of Grasmere Road, started on a four-week programme with Marks and Spencer and now works full-time in the cafe at the retailer’s Church Street store. He has been named employee of the month twice.

Store manager Criag Corrin said: “Every store needs someone like Matthew. As soon as you walk into the cafe you are greeted by his beaming smile and contagious enthusiasm.”

Matthew is one of several people on the Fylde coast to benefit from the course run by the Prince’s Trust.

The charity’s Get Into programme executive for Lancashire Greg Plummer said: “They have truly proved the ethos of The Prince’s Trust: that every young person given the chance can succeed.”

Helping young people succeed

The ‘Make Your Mark’ scheme, part of the Prince’s Trust’s Get Into Retail programme, is run by Marks and Spencer in partnership with charity.

It helps unemployed young people develop the skills and confidence needed to find work through a four-week training and work placement programme. Matthew is one of three young people on the Fylde coast to have recently been employed on a full-time contract with M&S.

The firm has also taken on a further 18 young people on 12-week part-time contracts across Blackpool following their successful completion of the programme.