Prince's Trust GMFRS

GMFRS trainee crowned Young Achiever of the Year in front of King Charles

AN OUTSTANDING Manchester woman who completed a training programme with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has won a prestigious national Prince’s Trust Award.

Joanna Drewett, 24, from South Manchester was named the winner of the Young Achiever Award, in recognition of her successes in the face of  adversity.

Joanna is one of hundreds of young people across the city-region to have completed the Team Programme with GMFRS. The 12-week programme, run in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, provides young people with an opportunity to gain skills and confidence. It's backed up with qualifications that for some may be the first real qualification they have achieved, which can open up life-changing opportunities.

To celebrate her outstanding achievement, Joanna attended a reception at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 18 May to meet His Majesty The King, Founder and President of The Prince’s Trust, who congratulated the award winners on their achievements.

The star-studded award ceremony was presented by Ant and Dec and attended by a host of celebrity supporters and Ambassadors of the youth charity. Joanna received her award from BAFTA winning actor Stephen Graham, who also joined the celebration event at Buckingham Palace.

Joanna, flanked by two men in suits, holds her award in front of a screen displaying the Prince's Trust logo

The Prince’s Trust Awards recognise young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community. The Young Achiever Award honours young people who have overcome substantial barriers to build a more stable and fulfilling life by securing employment.

At age 15, Joanna was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, which disrupted her education, and she finished school with just three GCSEs. Over the next couple of years, she was in and out of hospital, and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). 

Owing to her lack of qualifications Joanna didn’t feel as though she would be able to get a meaningful job, and felt completely hopeless and had lost her confidence. But during her final months of admission, she decided to give recovery one last go and researched The Prince’s Trust, applying after she was discharged.

It was at this point that Joanna joined the Team Programme, a twelve-week personal-development course with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Speaking about her time with GMFRS and The Prince’s Trust Joanna, said:

"The support I received at The Trust was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. My Team leaders were able to recognise my individual needs and I felt valued and listened to. They helped me adapt to the ‘real world’ outside of the hospital and offered practical and emotional help."

Whilst on the Team Programme, Joanna undertook a two-week work experience with Manchester based digital retailer N Brown, and after impressing them she was taken on permanently in the buying team. Almost five years on, Joanna is still working full time and has gone from an Admin Assistant to a Junior Buyer.

Following completion of the GMFRS Team Programme, Joanna acted as a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust. During her time as a Young Ambassador, she represented GMFRS’ Prince’s Trust programme at numerous events both locally and nationally, raising the profile of both The Trust and the challenges of poor mental health.

On winning the Homesense Young Achiever Award, Joanna said:

"I started Team as someone who was afraid to speak up, had no confidence and was scared to do anything. I finished the programme with a new-found confidence, a willingness to succeed and a genuine belief that I could get better and live a happy life.

"The Team Programme completely transformed me and set me on a new path. I think it’s important to share my story and raise awareness around mental health and I'm incredibly thankful to The Prince’s Trust for all the support they have given me along the way. Winning this and getting to meet The King is something I never expected, it's an absolute honour."

GMFRS has been delivering the Team Programme with the Prince’s Trust for over 20 years and each year it supports hundreds of children and young people from across Greater Manchester, often some of the most vulnerable young people, giving them new skills and opportunities to thrive.

GMFRS Chief Fire Officer Dave Russel is also the Chair of the National Fire Service Prince’s Trust Association. He said:

"We are delighted to see Joanna recognised for her success and determination. We’re very proud of our Prince’s Trust programme and moments like this are a real demonstration of the impact are having on young people across Greater Manchester."

Find out more about GMFRS’ Prince’s Trust programme.

Article Published: 24/05/2023 15:09 PM