Inspirational stories from ex-residents at young people’s Awards night sparks challenge to ‘invest and achieve’
21 NOV 2014

On 13th November 2014 121 St Basils young people received their Life Skills qualification at a cap and gown graduation ceremony, which St Basils hosted at Fazeley Studios, Digbeth.

St Basils Life Skills programme aims to teach young people the skills needed to live independently. These include skills such a money management, healthy eating on a budget, and cooking. In recent years St Basils has seen an increase in the younger age groups St Basils works with presenting as homeless, particularly 16-19 year olds so mastering Life Skills are absolutely crucial for this age category, and a number of young people shared their stories on the night, explaining how the Life Skills programme had helped them, Taking part in the Life Skills programme also helps build young people’s confidence and often young people who have done Life Skills go on to take part in other LSW courses.

The annual Awards celebration is also about recognising young people’s other education, training and work achievements as well as their talents and there were a number of performances on the night from young people including from one young man who performed a song he had written himself.

As well as the young people who are graduating and their friends and support workers, the event is also attended by St Basils partners, funders, supporters and this year investors too.

The theme for St Basils this year is ‘Invest, Achieve, Inspire’ and this was particularly reflected at the Awards ceremony this year.

Speaking on this subject at the event, Jean Templeton, Chief Executive of St Basils said: “Investment inspires a different kind of mindset; you invest because you believe that they’ll be something better at the end of it.”

“I want to thank everyone here because you’ve all invested something, be it money, time, belief or skills to help our young people achieve and they have also invested something, they’ve invested in themselves and they’ve taken the time and put the effort in and in turn that will carry on to inspire more young people and further investment – so thank you and well done to everybody”.

Proving the point, two ex-residents of St Basils then shared their truly inspirational stories.

One young woman who had the ambition to be a lawyer from the age of three, and recently achieved a 2:1 Law degree from Leeds University (full story on our case studies page), despite becoming homeless at 16, explained how after doing her Life Skills course at St Basils and then going on to University at 18, she was the only person on her block who knew how to cook and work the washing machine!

Addressing the Life Skills graduates, in regards to achieving ambitions despite the odds, she said: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, because I’m living proof that you can do it!”

Another inspirational ex-resident was our key note speaker for the evening and she also presented our young graduates with their certificates.

Sharon Thompson (pictured right) found herself homeless aged 16 in 1997. This year she was elected a local Councillor in Soho Ward, Birmingham, she is also a magistrate, achieved a degree through the Open University as a mature student and is now a St Basils Board member too.

Speaking on the night she said she is jealous of the number of opportunities St Basils residents now have as Sharon was a resident at St Basils before involvement opportunities or the official Life Skills programme was developed.  

Cllr Sharon Thompson said: “My time at St Basils was the building blocks for my career and future and if I can achieve that on the limited resources St Basils had then, just think what you can do now! ….I have to be honest, I wasn’t a perfect resident here, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do or what career I wanted, but I had a ‘to be’ list. I knew what kind of person I wanted to be and what I wanted to be remembered for.

Addressing the young people she said: “I’m so proud of all of you because I’ve always said that it’s about investing in yourself as well. St Basils can provide the opportunities but you’ve got to grab them with both hands because that’s what makes the connection. It’s a mindset. I always say, like L’Oreal “because I’m worth it”! Tonight this room is filled with people that inspire, you are all inspirational! In 5 years time I don’t expect to still be up here making the speeches, I expect to be sitting down there, listening to one of you share your inspirational story.

My closing message to you is ‘be more’. You have the opportunity every day.”

2014 Life Skills Graduates