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BEFORE Francesca Martinelli joined a Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's Prince's Trust Team she was "bouncing around from job to job."
Despite achieving high grades at A-Level Francesca didn't think she was clever enough to go to university and suffered from low self-esteem because of her disability - cerebral palsy.
She said: "I had so many hang-ups about my disability I thought no one would listen to me because I'm disabled. I kind of gave up and became indifferent to things."
Francesca was unemployed when she saw an advert for GMFRS' Prince's Trust scheme in her local newspaper and fancied a new challenge.
She said: "I was a bit apprehensive about the physical side because of my disability and I wasn't sure how I would fare when it got to the second week and we had to do a residential.
"As it turned out I completed it without a scratch on me. I did my two week placement at Whitehill Fire Station and I was hooked on everything fire service."
After a short period volunteering for GMFRS Francesca applied for the CSA apprenticeship and was offered a place on the pilot scheme.
"When I first found I'd got the job I was amazed I asked them on the phone 'Are you sure?' I'm really happy to be here and I've found that I've been getting a lot more respect from people," she said.
Six months in GMFRS has transformed Francesca's life-giving her direction and most importantly a sense of self-worth.
She said: "I've always wanted a job which could make me respected and give me self-respect because I've always had low self-esteem. This job has given me a lot more confidence.
"For someone like me when I walked down the street people used to push past, now they move out of the way - I'm amazed.
"It's given me the confidence to just talk to people and I'd never do that before and I'd never put my ideas before somebody else."
Francesca has overcome the concerns she had about her disability. She refuses to rule herself out of anything and lives by her motto: "If I can do it I will. If I can't I will ask for help."
She has given a presentation to her colleagues about cerebral palsy to inform them about the condition and how to help any sufferers they encounter.
Francesca said: "It's my brainchild and they've let me have free reign over it. It will give them the science behind cerebral palsy and my personal perspective of it."
With her new found confidence Francesca hopes to stay in GMFRS and make the most of the opportunities the organisation has given her.
She said: "I see myself staying in the fire service after my apprenticeship - this is a career opportunity I don't want to pass up. Hopefully I'll still be here if not as a CSA I'd like be in HR admin, but I'd still like to get out there in the community.
"I was bullied a lot in school and I want the bullies to see I've made something of my life."