CHARLENE’S divorce hit her hard. After living in Germany as a military wife and a full-time mum, she went from having routine and financial security to looking after her children by herself on a council estate. Reliant on benefits and struggling with feelings of isolation and unemployment, Charlene was determined to improve her situation. With support from youth charity The Prince’s Trust, she turned her life around and is now pursuing a successful career.
Charlene had a difficult time, divorcing from her husband and moving back home with her two children. She was driven to gain the skills needed to support her family and began to seek work experience and training, now also caring for her son who had been diagnosed with a heart condition.
She said: “It’s a very dark and lonely place when your circumstances change and you are drawn into the benefits cycle. I wanted to contribute to society but knew I needed to improve my skills if I was going to get a good job, so I decided to get out there and find out what options were available to me.”
During this time Charlene had a business idea and, in a search for funding, came across The Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise programme which gives disadvantaged young people the practical and financial support they need to run a small business.
The programme helped Charlene learn valuable business skills and gave her the chance to explore new areas including marketing and bookkeeping. She was assigned a progression mentor who supported her through her next steps.
She added: “The Enterprise programme opened my eyes to everything I could achieve and helped me to get my confidence back. I developed loads of new skills and began to feel like myself again – not just a mum or carer. It was a very empowering experience.”
Charlene continued to move from strength-to-strength and now works for The Prince’s Trust as a volunteer executive, managing 120 volunteers from the charity’s Southampton office. In the future, she’d like to support ex-Servicemen and women as they make the transition back to civvy street when they leave the Forces.
The Prince’s Trust offers a range of programmes across the UK which help disadvantaged young people who are unemployed or struggling at school to develop the confidence and skills they need to move into work, education or training. To find out what programmes are running in your area, enter your postcode into The Trust’s course finder, or call 0800 842 842 (Freephone).