A young woman from Tring has been recognised for her dedication to her studies and overcoming personal trauma following the death of her mother.
Paris Wren, 22, was the winner of the Serco Flying Start award in the East of England, which recognises the achievements of young people who are in sustainable employment despite significant obstacles.
She said: “I can’t believe I’ve won. I’ve not had the easiest journey in life, but the programme has inspired me to go for what I want, and I’m proud of myself.”
Paris had a very close relationship with her mother Carole, and was left devastated after she passed away unexpectedly.
She said: “I just don’t have the words to describe how I felt. My beautiful mum – my best friend – had gone and I was left alone.”
She threw herself into studying as a way of coping, but after a year her feelings of grief resurfaced.
“I felt lower than I’d ever been before. I felt like a complete failure, like my life had no meaning; I was terribly guilty that I’d let Mum down.”
Paris was introduced to the Prince’s Trust by her job centre, but it took a lot of persuading to get her to join the Team programme – which helps unemployed people gain the confidence and skills to get a job – as she was convinced no one would like her.
Despite feeling lost and bewildered at first, Paris soon settled into the group and it became clear that she had a real ability to empathise with others, as well as a willingness to listen.
These qualities made her a popular member of the group, and boosted her self-confidence. She soon realised she wanted a job helping others.
After volunteering with the YMCA, job seeking became more focused and Paris accepted a permanent position working on the Team programme.
She said: “I finally feel like I’m doing something that would make mum proud.”
She plans to run the London Marathon next year to help support young people dealing with bereavement.