Last Tuesday 13th May, I was given the amazing oppertunity of opening the annual youth employment convention at the oval.
I have received a fantastic response and was able to meet many inspiring and all round incredible people.
Here is the opening speech I delievered at the beginning of the event which can also be found on the cesi website.
Hi my name’s Monique, and I’m here to talk about my route to work and a little about my work at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, where I am currently working as a sports mentor.
For those of you who are not aware of the Trust and what we do. We are a non profit organisation set up by the Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.
We offer a wide range of sports programs and projects, to young people up and down the country.
And like many of the young people who enrol onto our programs I came from a difficult background.
Out of home from an early age and having battled many adversities including Cancer, homelessness and depression I was myself put on to one of the mentoring programs delivered by the Trust where I was given the opportunity to come in to contact with world class athletes who have gone on to achieve great things with their careers and in their lives despite the setbacks and adversities they have had to overcome.
4 Years on and I am now part of the Trust working alongside other athletes as a mentor empowering young people to make a positive change in their life through sport.
I have since gone on to become a successful power lifter having representing the country at world level and attaining several world titles.
Despite the many obstacles faced my story is an example of what can be achieved with the backing and belief of a good support network around me.
We all go through hard times and sometimes we just need a hand to get back up. And that is what we are about at the Trust. We are here to help young people get back on their feet and get their lives back on track.
We make it possible for young people to do this by offering, a wide range of innovative projects tailored to our young people and their needs.
By taking part on these placements, we help nurture the future talent of enthusiastic teenagers and young adults. Through getting young people involved in our sports projects and mentoring sessions we are helping to enhance their quality of life in addition to teaching them valuable skills that they will then use on a daily basis.
Sport not only provides mental and physical benefits, but also teaches vital life skills such as discipline and the importance of team work. These projects can have a great impact upon those from disadvantaged backgrounds as it offers time away from the less positive aspects of life.
The Trust is about so much more than simply introducing a young person to sport. It’s about nurturing and uncovering the talent that is already there be it through sport or any other passion that a young person already has.
We believe that with the right support, that every young person has the potential to go far.
Some of the young people who we help come to us from difficult and diverse backgrounds. Our Sport for Change project works with leading youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, and is aimed at homeless young people living in hostels.
It is a week long intensive program which centres around preparing the young people for independent living, focusing on important life skills such as budgeting and staying motivated, whilst also encouraging them to target the areas in their life which need improvement such as learning and development . We have the resources to help young people take the first step towards getting back in to education and employment
The athletes at the Trust are real life examples of what can be achieved with hard work and discipline. Using our own experiences to inspire and motivate those we mentor, we aim to give young people the ambition, the drive and the desire to succeed in whatever they decided to pursue in life.
Like many young people I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, and during my first year at college I ended up having a break down and being admitted to hospital for 7 months. Despite this, when I came out I went back to college and completed my course. In 3 years I completed a BTEC national diploma in mechanical and electrical engineering, a city and guilds level 2 in plumbing and a level 2 city and guilds in AUTO CAD (which is computer aided design).
However when I left education and having got a job in an engineering firm, as sport was such a big part of my life, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the fitness industry, which is where I found an apprenticeship at Deloitte, as an apprentice fitness instructor in their corporate gym. It was here I was able to gain an NVQ in Fitness Instructing, and gain experience, a qualification and a salary in something I enjoyed. I am also in the running for Apprentice Champion of the Year thanks to my apprenticeship at Deloitte and in recognition of the charity work I do in my spare time outside of work.
My apprenticeship has been a pivotal part in my life, and it enabled me to pursue a career in an industry I am passionate about whilst attaining the relevant qualifications.
Here at the Trust we work closely with employers, and try to encourage the people we mentor to enrol on either an apprenticeship, course or other form of employment offering a £100 incentive.
It was though my sport that I was able to pursue my fitness career. Learning the skills I needed to secure a job through my sport.
I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for my sport and the mentality that was instilled in me from a very early age, then it would have been a very different story.
My sport has given me confidence, taught me discipline and how to stay focused. I have learnt how to respect myself and those around me. But most importantly I have learnt that anything is possible and no dream is ever too big. As long as you believe you can achieve then you will.
Working with young people is not just about what young people can offer a business it is about what your business can offer to young people.
It is amazing what a young person can achieve when given the confidence and self belief. All it takes is for an employer to believe in a young person. With the support of local businesses and employers the possibilities are endless.
The young people of today are the future of tomorrow, which is why it is so important not only to invest money but to invest our time into ensuring that they have the best opportunities possible.