Wigan's Way to Work website offers advice and guidance to help anyone find the right path for them. But often advice on jobs and careers isn't the full story. In some cases people have to embark on a life-changing journey to ensure that they are 'job ready' and often have to overcome significant hurdles along the way. Way to Work can help with this as well, as Borough Life discovered after speaking with one remarkable young person who has triumphed in the face of adversity thanks to a little help.
Way to Work gives Hayley high hopes
HAYLEY Smith had a tough start in life. A troubled childhood, years of moving from place-to-place and an addiction to hard drugs. Enough harrowing experiences to last a life-time, all before her 21st birthday.
With a track record like that it would be easy to write Hayley off... but this isn't the kind of girl who is going to roll over quietly.
“I was a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off,” admits Hayley. “I was battling so much pain from my early life that I spent my days taking any drugs I could get my hands on to block it out.”
Despite the chaos and despite missing a whole year at school, Hayley still got a handful of GCSEs and she went on to further studies.
Matters came to a head for Hayley when she turned 20. She had been living rough on the streets of Wigan and Chorley since the age of 14 and admits that she now thought her life was over.
But the born fighter refused to give up. Hayley sought the help she needed for the psychological and emotional scars she carried. She eventually got off the streets and was offered a place at a supported accommodation centre for young people aged from 16 to 25.
The lodgings provided Hayley with the security she craved and now it was time to turn the rest of her life around.
“When I first arrived I had nothing to live for. I had zero-confidence and I rarely left my flat,” says Hayley. “Thankfully I had an amazing support worker who made me see that life could be different, if I really wanted it.”
Last year Hayley joined Groundwork's Prince's Trust programme for a 12 week self-development programme. The course gives young people the skills, motivation and confidence to go onto further education, training or employment.
Hayley’s passion and determination impressed Groundwork’s Hugh Shields so much that the organisation ended up offering her a position through the Future Jobs Fund. Now she works with other troubled young people, giving them the benefit of her experience to get a flying start.
Hugh, the programme manager at Groundwork, tells us: “Hayley is an inspiration to us all. When she arrived she was shy and quiet and looking for direction.
“Groundwork's staff were able to work with her on her confidence and we recognised that she had the potential to be great and that's why Hayley was offered the role of Trainee Personal Development Officer – she is a completely different person today.”
Hayley has marked the transition by moving into her own place and for the first time in her life 'feels settled'.
“Every day brings its challenges, so I take it one step at a time.
“I'm sharing my story because I know there are others out there who have had to deal with unimaginable hardship and trauma and don't know where to turn.
“There is help out there – if you really want it.
“I refused to be a victim and I'm sure there are others that feel the same way. I have so much to offer and I want to help others be the best they possibly can.”
To watch Hayley’s video diary, visit her blog at Hayley Smith Way to Work blog (external link)
For details of the full range of services that Way to Work has to offer visit their website Way to Work (external link)