Sammy has battled many personal barriers which were hindering her progression in life. Despite leaving school with a good range of GCSEs, she spent her teenage years supporting her dad, and younger sisters following her parents’ break up.

“It was hard. I would be cooking, cleaning and washing after school and then revising for my GCSEs into the early hours,” she said. Despite the challenges, Sammy-Jo maintained an excellent attendance rate in class, and achieved exam results that included eight GCSEs at A-C.

She said: “I started college but because of what was going on at home, it was difficult to focus.” At 16, Sammy-Jo left the family home and with her relationship with her parents strained, she faced emotional and financial struggles.

Sammy-Jo was put in touch with Itec Training in Newport, she joined its Engagement Programme and was given a learner coach. “They put a plan in place for me straight away,” she said. “Not only did they help me work on my qualifications, but they gave me personal support.” Homelessness charity Llamau worked with Itec to help Sammy-Jo with the financial challenges of living alone at a young age.

She started a Traineeship and has completed formal qualifications in employability skills, retail and customer service. She’s also become a peer mentor for new referrals at the training company, who’ve suffered similar personal barriers.

She began to build her self-esteem and belief in herself and, although facing financial difficulties, she managed to get through this and now budgets her money down to the last penny.

She says, “My life was dark for a long time and I didn’t know which direction I was going in. I can now look people in the eye and talk to them like a human being. I know that with continued help and guidance I can see a bright future”.

Her nominator, Rhion Hollister, says, “She is incredibly strong and has developed into a respectful, confident and clever young person.”

The next steps for Sammy are to continue developing her skills and gaining qualifications that will lead to a full- time job. “There’s so much in my life I want to achieve, and I now feel I am ready for it. My goals in life are to be completely independent with a nice house, job and car! I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt. I know many of us struggle to speak up about what we’re going through, but the help is there and I’d encourage people to talk as it can make such a difference to your life.”