Trapped, disheartened, isolated, depressed, manipulated, drained, tortured, not good enough, unappreciated, demotivated, lost, alone and unhappy.
These are some of the emotions that came to mind when recalling my experience at the age of 16.
My name is Farida Francis and I am a 22 year old working with young people at the St Giles Trust, where I regularly witness the above emotions like a vivid memory perpetrating in my mind.
At the age of 16 when I had left secondary school and the support from my teachers and peers had been pulled from under me like a rug, I too felt daunted about entering the big wide world. Unaware of the struggle I would have to go through to get a good job and earn my own income independently.
However, my journey had begun and like most teenagers my desire to establish myself as an adult had led me to break away from parental care, leaving me estranged from family and living by myself in a hostel with other influences around, in similar situations to my own, steering me to their world and enlightening me with big amounts of cash.
Void of the necessary skills to earn a tangible independent income, I sort an honest wage, only to have each application shot back with the response:
“After careful consideration we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful”
Pressure from my peers to take the fast lane at the risk of my independence and safety ensued, yet in my despair the desire for something honest and positive prevailed.
It was a constant battle to keep my confidence with no one to turn to, no support or acknowledgement, kindly being let down for jobs, as I was constantly labelled as “inexperienced”, when I knew that I was more than capable of meeting the requirements if given half a chance.
This left me depressed and withdrawn. I was shut down and came to the conclusion that there was no hope, none what so ever.
Eventually, I was housed in permanent accommodation and I landed in a job at Woolworths in Clapham Junction.
Working and studying is and was my escape until this day as it gives you a sense of belonging, development and a chance to achieve goals, knowing you have done the best you can as well as having something constructive to do in your given time.
I believe the gap between secondary school and college/work is the most critical stage in a young adult’s life and that work/career preparation need to start in schools as most young people are oblivious to life in the “real world”.
From a structured timetable at school, converted into independence and freedom to do what you choose with no sense of direction can cause destruction.
If I had more direction and guidance on the skills necessary to flourish in adulthood I would have known what to expect mentally, and physically planned accordingly.
Whether that means taking year 10 work experience more seriously or schools or third party scheme offering budgeting and office politic classes/simulations I would have liked to have been involved.
Lack of planning means planning to fail and that’s the trap I believe most young people fall into.
Simply ignoring the needs of our nation’s youth means we are ignoring our future, as young people tend to seek attention from those who acknowledge them whether good or bad.
I believe that we need to provide more support for young people throughout their teenage years until they are able to establish themselves as young adults by becoming the best candidates for the prospective employment and careers, forging a better foundation for our nation’s future.